Dangerous. This book is dangerous and disappointing. I can't tell you about the fury I felt at the very beginning of this book. The propaganda, mythsDangerous. This book is dangerous and disappointing. I can't tell you about the fury I felt at the very beginning of this book. The propaganda, myths and downright lies regarding the science of mental illness that only serve to misinform and hurt the vulnerable, those who live with these illnesses and their family and friends which is a good percentage of the population. Most will be affected by it at some point in their lives. And at this point you should know that my family has been touched by it and I've worked with people from the UK mental health charity, Mind.
In the Nature Vs. Nurture debate, on a scale, mental illness is overwhelmingly more about nurture and environment than genetics. If a group of people, like a family, are subjected to the same stressful environment then they're more likely to develop problems than one living a stress-free life. That has been proven.
The Glimpse's Big 3: schizophrenia, depression and anxiety - Most will personally experience a period of the latter two. Life is hard, that's a fact. You can't just permanently label someone as one of the Crazies for what could be an episode lasting only a few months and then going on to suffer no further problems. It doesn't work like that. Telling someone they're crazy could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where they live up to their label and if one hadn't been issued in the first place that person may be otherwise perfectly healthy. The book picks up on this to some extent but it would depend on the perceptiveness of the reader to fully understand the ramifications.
Suffering a mental illness does not automatically mean you're a lost cause. A great many are functional members of society with the help of appropriate treatment and support but here the treatment is horrifying and only hinders and hurts the recipients and could put people off from seeking help themselves. The book states that 40% of the population is Active or "Crazy", a Sleeper (guaranteed to become Active) or a Carrier of the faulty genes responsible. No Pures ever become Crazy. In reality, there are no absolutes.
This is the world Ana has grown up in. To fear the Crazies outside of the walls of her Community of Pures until she's outed as a Sleeper and enters the filthy, neglected and chaotic City (London) and observes the truth for herself. It's only much, much later that she discovers the possibility the Crazy-Pure dynamic is a lie used as a form of social control which just so happens to benefit the evil profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies forcing drugs on healthy individuals and leaving them to self-destruct from the resulting side-effects. But there is far too much doubt regarding the validity of this conspiracy, and comes too little too late for disgusted, insulted and vulnerable readers who may have abandoned the book by now.
The problem is the propaganda spouted by the Pures is too eerily reminiscent of the way society judges mental illness today; with ignorance and contempt for the perceived weakness and potential danger they could pose to others and a need to ignore, dismiss and hide the sufferers away. Anything to distance themselves from the "afflicted". In effect, this book confuses the educational messages mental health charities try to instill in the public by reinforcing the negative and unhelpful perceptions of mental illness in a time of (hopefully lessening) ignorance on the subject. And that's something I can't ignore because this book is being marketed to an impressionable section of society: teenagers -tomorrow's adults. How will they treat this subject after reading The Glimpse?
My anger stayed with me throughout the book but it didn't stop me from acknowledging the vividly realistic future England of the year 2041, the state of global politics and the effects of our Global Depression, the Petrol Wars and the very different transport system, the housing crisis worsened by high repossession rates, the use of cash is outlawed -credit transactions only (big brother), the bankers earning their pitchforks along with their horns, having a personal online presence is mandatory e.g. blogs, the dismantling of the United Kingdom -becoming independent countries once again, the media monopolizing power of the BBC, and the downfall of the music industry and Tesco, etc. It's jam-packed with genius world-building tidbits.
Seventeen-year-old Ana's toxic relationship with her father also had a ring of truth to it. As a character, Ana had formidable strength in the face of an illogical, nay farcical, situation she finds herself in of being the only sane person regularly put under the microscope by none too sane so-called professionals (many of whom enjoy torturing their "patients" and who see everything as a sign of mental illness), unaware of the very pressure they're putting her under would crack the average person faster than you could blink. She's been forced to rein in all emotion, remain composed at all times and conditioned to respond in a calculated manner during all mental health assessments and public appearances for fear of being judged "Active".
Religious people may also get upset with this book as it labels religious belief as a form of psychosis and in this future all religion is illegal because of it's ability to destroy 'every culture that ever existed.' Although there's a hint of the paranormal in the form of Enlightenment Glimpse -the ability to see a short vision, glimpse, of the future used by the only remaining religious organisation which is viewed as a strict brainwashing cult by the Pures.
The love triangle wasn't painful and appears to be resolved in this book. Both men, Jasper and Cole, are older by up to 6 years. For once, I approve of Ana's pick. The ending leaves things open for the sequel (which should resolve everything as Merle has a two-book deal) but it doesn't leave you hanging off a cliff.
Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive due to my personal connection with mental illness. Besides, dystopian fiction takes the negative aspects of society and exaggerates them to the extreme and usually acts as some sort of lesson against behaving in a certain manner. So maybe I have nothing to worry about and have no need to be upset, but then this is just my opinion.
Some may ask me why I read this book after reading the synopsis and knowing what to expect. A synopsis doesn't tell you everything. I have a keen interest in psychology (especially in fiction) and in truth, I assumed some disease had changed human genes somehow and the result altered the nature and development of mental illness. In any case, I'm glad I overcame strong emotions to read the whole book.
WARNING: contains violence, physical and psychological abuse, some gore, and rape.
***My thanks to Faber & Faber and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.***...more
Tempting the Beast is a lesson in how not to write romance or a book in general. Editors do an important job and I wish a good one had worked on thiTempting the Beast is a lesson in how not to write romance or a book in general. Editors do an important job and I wish a good one had worked on this, heavily.
Me reading this book:
Heroine pushes her naive deeply stupid agenda *wince at poor use of language* sex hero whines *rolls eyes* sex *wince again* heroine whines sex more whining *more eye rolling* heroine stubbornly (and stupidly) believes she is right more sex a rare moment: non-sexual action spoke too soon, more sex "I love you" - *wince* hint of a plot heroine gleefully gets her stubborn stupid way -grr! THE END
The word "repetitive" is an understatement. I skipped many a sex scene. They got old real quick. Less is most definitely more. Instead of detailing every sex scene just simply say "And they had sex again" or something to that effect and move the hell on. Jeez. If a drinking game associated with this book doesn't all ready exist there should be one with every time you read "throbbing", "womb", "vagina", etc. Of course, you'd have to be hospitalised for alcohol poisoning long before you were able to turn the last page.
I'm amazed I finished this but somehow I did. The only book I've read that could rival this one in terms of number of sex scenes is The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty and they got tiresome too.
P.S. I feel the need to state that I like some erotica now and then but there was too much sex for the length of the book and not enough plot to keep me happy....more
Chicken soup for the soul. The Grinch himself would be hard-pressed not to empathise with Ivan's story. With a gorgeous cover and a heartbreaking memoChicken soup for the soul. The Grinch himself would be hard-pressed not to empathise with Ivan's story. With a gorgeous cover and a heartbreaking memoir of a lonely, caged gorilla living among other mistreated "circus" animals, delivered via emotionally-charged and insightful writing, Ms. Applegate forced tears from this stoic, 25-year-old pessimist.
I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.
It's not as easy as it looks.
People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback.
The names are mine, but they're not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan.
Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.'
By reading The One and Only Ivan we walk a few miles in Ivan's shoes, so to speak. His wistful words touch your heart. His friend, Stella the elephant, twists your soul with her story and sentiments. Ruby, the baby elephant, you're desperate to save from Stella's fate. My arms ached with wanting to hug these (obviously wild and dangerous) creatures.
'Every night, when the stores close and the moon washes the world with milky light, Stella and I talk.
We don't have much in common, but we have enough. We are huge and alone, and we both love yogurt raisins.
Sometimes Stella tells stories of her childhood, of leafy canopies hidden by mist and the busy songs of flowing water. Unlike me, she recalls every detail of her past.'
The graceful language is simple and concise yet colourfully illuminating. No words are wasted. The author implies rather than tells, allowing readers to draw our own conclusions. The lovely illustrations are sparse but functional. I knew early on this would be a five star re-read. Ivan's philisophical observations, his acceptance of his circumstances, his stubborn desire to never remember his wild and free childhood before he was captured, his all-consuming, engrossing characterisation, and the way he changes to become the silverback he's always wanted to be, like his father, when he meets Ruby -make this a page-turner.
'I am never angry.
Anger is precious. A silverback uses anger to maintain order and warn his troop of danger. When my father beat his chest, it was to say, Beware, listen, I am in charge. I am angry to protect you, because that is what I was born to do.
Here in my domain, there is no one to protect.'
At page 72, my heart clenched and my eyes misted over with the introduction of baby Ruby, her distress and Stella's comfort...I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Ruby's a curious innocent you want to protect, and Ivan and Stella do their best.
This story is loosely based on a real gorilla called Ivan, and other elements of it are real too. I've come away thinking the human race are scum that should be exterminated to allow all animals to live natural, peaceful lives without fear of human murderers and torturers. Me, the meat-eating non-pacifist. I suddenly feel the need to contribute to an animal welfare charity. That's probably the message working its magic on me.
I highly recommend this captivating book to everyone over the age of 12, because the beginning is full of the depressing reality of cruelty to animals despite the sweet and somewhat predictable happy-ever-after ending. Even those with hearts made of ice can't fail to melt whilst reading this.
Customer: Do you have any Robin Hood stories where he doesn't steal from the rich? My husband's called Robin and I'd like to buy him a copy for his b
Customer: Do you have any Robin Hood stories where he doesn't steal from the rich? My husband's called Robin and I'd like to buy him a copy for his birthday, but he's a banker, so...
This little book is full of the weird, the wonderful and the hilariously funny things customers say in bookshops. The cover is beautiful and I love the little illustrations alongside the quotes, especially this one:
Favourites that aren't in the book, from the website:
a customer reading a book about the nativity. Customer *to her friend*: Don't you ever get the feeling that Baby Jesus is somehow related to Herod? I always think that he's going to go: 'JESUS. I AM YOUR FATHER.'
Child *to me*: Does Santa come to your bookshop to get gifts for kids? Me *nodding wisely*: Yes. Yes. He absolutely does. Child: That's awesome! Me: Yes, it is. Child: But... Me: But what? Child: But... Santa's really fat. I don't think he could squeeze through the gaps in the bookshelves. Me: It's ok. He sends us a list before hand, and we leave the books by the door. Child: That makes you Santa's elf! Me: Yes... yes, I suppose it does.
I've been following the blog and Facebook Page, nodding when I've come across something I've experienced as an ex-bookseller and laughing when it's so absurd and is, as Neil Gaiman has quoted on the cover, kinda sad....more
Super strong opening chapters with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting, threw up more questions than answers.
Starters shineSuper strong opening chapters with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting, threw up more questions than answers.
Starters shines the spotlight on a section of society which is sometimes overlooked or given the least respect but which will in future be the most powerful: the old. One day there will be fewer young people to support the ever-increasing number of elderly citizens, and here we can see how things could change in their favour.
Starters are under 19 years of age, those just starting out in life and Enders are the elderly. The generations inbetween have all died after biological warfare prompted the vaccination of the vulnerable –the old and the young, leaving those in the middle to die prolonged and agonizing deaths.
From the technology available I would guess we’re about 50 years in the future in a post-war America. The reasons for the war aren’t given. All we know is that Pacific Rim countries were involved and that America used an EMP weapon on them and they retaliated with a biologically engineered disease –game, set, match.
The age gap creates a huge gulf between the Starters and Enders. Old legislation addressing the increasing aging population means anyone under 19 cannot work and the large numbers of unclaimed minors whose family have died are unable to legitimately provide for themselves. Orphanages are basically workhouses with inmates treated as prisoners; no one wants to end up there. Squatting and thieving is how most get by, dodging the child-catching Marshals whenever possible. Adoption or fostering seems non-existent. Enders don’t care about Starters unless they’re family. I find this surprising because many Enders would’ve lost children, relatives. Some may be the last members of their families. Hasn’t loneliness spurred any to seek adoption?
The story follows Callie, a Starter, who lost her parents to the war. She has no grandparents and is forced to care for her 7-year-old brother by herself with a little help from Michael, a boy who used to live down the street from her pre-war. They’re currently squatting in an abandoned building practically starving. She can’t bear to watch her sick brother lose any more weight so she visits the not so ethical or legal, Prime Destinations, a place which rents out the bodies of teenagers to Enders who pay large sums of money to feel young again. If she does this she’ll have enough cash to pay for a home and medical care for her brother for the next few years.
For obvious reasons Callie’s reluctant to do this but she has little choice. Unfortunately things don’t go quite to plan, Callie suddenly wakes up in a nightclub instead of the lab and finds out the renter of her body wishes to murder someone. Scared, she pretends she’s her renter to safeguard her payment and attempts to stop her renter from committing this crime which will no doubt lead to her own execution.
Along the way she encounters other renters taking full advantage of their new temporary bodies and think nothing of stealing the lives of the body’s original owners. They take the old adage ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ to heart. These privileged Enders are selfish and greedy. The predatory gleam in the eyes of those at PD were quite creepy, eyeing up the young like they’re cattle for slaughter, salivating at the thought of inhabiting their supple bodies and smooth, wrinkle-free skin. *shudders*
These Enders aren’t your average old people. They live to 200 years old and appear to have no health problems due to advances in medicine, odd because not all Enders are rich and the last time I checked medical care wasn’t free in America so how come none of them appear hampered by age. Sure, some have wrinkles (and others get cosmetic surgery) and watery eyes but no problems running or experiencing a full working life.
Carrie also finds herself spending time with a handsome and rich teen, Blake. Her Prince Charming. Whenever she’s around him the urgency of her predicament, racing-against-time to stop the murder, fades into the background. A day out horse-riding with him and she forgets her responsibilities and starts comparing herself to Cinderella, wondering if the girl from the fairy tale ever considered telling her prince she’s a fraud. I never understood Blake’s appeal considering the over-familiar way he behaves, acting like they’re closer than the strangers they are. And Callie’s ambiguous relationship with Michael –are they more than friends? Even at the end it isn’t clear. Is a love triangle on the horizon?
Reading about how vaccinating the old and young from something so deadly implies this is the wrong course of action generally. Yes, the elderly are an invaluable source of knowledge, wisdom and experience but in a situation where you have limited resources and a serious biological threat, is protecting the weakest to the detriment of the strong really the right decision to make? In this case it left children without parents, manual labour is carried out by those children because the elderly were either too frail or simply felt they were above such work.
The plot is interesting if slightly predictable and the characters are quite thin, I didn't feel particularly attached to any of them. I did have some problems understanding the technology either because we’re given names of something but not what it does or because something we all ready have has been rebranded e.g. Z-mail a.k.a. e-mail, Zing a.k.a. text message –took me a bit to figure that one out. The focus of the book is on the very rich and the very poor Starters but we don't get to see those in the middle, nor do we see any poor Enders. The last page was intriguing but I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel for one reason: the possibility of a love triangle. The rest I believe will be developed and improved upon but I can't abide love triangles.
***Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.***
It's okay to rape your husband. (Source: Chapter 18 onwards.)
Up until this chapter The Duke and I was on the road to four stars. Four and not five becIt's okay to rape your husband. (Source: Chapter 18 onwards.)
Up until this chapter The Duke and I was on the road to four stars. Four and not five because of:
➜ Anthony's behaviour after witnessing his friend's mouth on his sister's chest in the garden of a house party, challenging his FRIEND to a duel after Simon refused to marry Daphne on the grounds it would make her unhappy because he couldn't give her what she'd always wanted i.e. children and therefore happiness. If Simon really was a friend, Anthony would've asked more questions about the why and been more tenacious in getting an accurate answer instead of jumping into a duel where he'd be forced to kill his friend;
➜ The following duel scene the next morning when Daphne outright lies to Simon about others, besides Anthony, witnessing their intimate act to prevent Simon from being killed in the duel and to force him to marry her, followed by Simon omitting the fact he won't have children and instead says he 'can't' have them so he doesn't have to tell her his very personal reason why.
I swallowed these things hoping it would come out later and they'd forgive each other in the end.
What I was not expecting was Daphne's grotesque arrogance and selfishness in taking advantage of her drunk husband after she found out the truth, denying him sex and companionship, and not allowing him to pull out during sex so she could have the children she'd always wanted. They'd been MARRIED TWO WEEKS, there was plenty of time to discuss his problems, his worries, about even contemplating children and instead she takes the choice from him against his will as he struggles with her once he realises her intentions.
After what Simon's father did to him Daphne's behaviour is even worse because she knew about Simon's stuttering and his father's abandonment of Simon because of this. And then two months after Simon leaves her he finds he misses her and he CAN'T REMEMBER WHY HE LEFT IN THE FIRST PLACE, thereby excusing any wrongdoing on her part. But not only that, Daphne sends her angry brother after Simon without telling him she was the reason Simon left and not Simon himself.
So, four stars to one. If the gender roles had been reversed I'd expect more people would've been outraged at the rape. Completely ruined a perfectly good book, and my first, and possibly the last, by Julia Quinn....more
Damn this seductively beautiful book cover. *sigh*
Confused and worried about the yo-yo ratings given this by my friends, I was hoping my experience woDamn this seductively beautiful book cover. *sigh*
Confused and worried about the yo-yo ratings given this by my friends, I was hoping my experience would fall closer to the positive end of the scale and since I decided to participate in a read-along with THT I gave it my best effort. And a challenging read it was. I dragged myself, kicking and screaming to page 80 whereupon I began the process of DNFing when I realised the griffin, much-loved by many reviewers, had entered the picture. One last chance was given for Stormdancer to win me over. Unnecessary animal cruelty sealed its fate.
The insurmountable problems I experienced while reading Stormdancer:
• Ignorance. I don't enjoy feeling stupid. Too many foreign words were introduced without explanation (some of which were repetitive). Later, I learned there was a GLOSSARY IN THE BACK. Reading the e-ARC, this was a bit of a problem. Rather than wasting time trying to figure out how to find it and refer to it in a timely manner or use Google I continued reading, hoping it wouldn't matter. IT DOES MATTER. DON'T READ THE EBOOK, read a hardcopy. To my dismay I found myself calculating how much Japanese culture, media and language I have consumed (view spoiler)[(I've watched Pokémon TV series and Studio Ghibli movies. Owned a Tamagotchi. Read and enjoyed Battle Royale and watched the movie. I'm aware of things like manga, animé, shibari and hentai.) (hide spoiler)] because I understood just one word: katana. A sword. The rest...who knows what it said or meant because it went right over my head.
• Authenticity was always going to be an issue being that the author is neither Japanese, and as far as I know, didn't spend considerable time in Japan. Artistic license is allowed and I definitely noticed non-Japanese references like the mention of pandas. I can't speak to how authentic Stormdancer is, but having recently read Across the Nightingale Floor, also by a Western author, I'm wary now of authors writing books set within histories and cultures they haven't immersed themselves in and admittedly know little about.
• World-building. Wading through the info-dump, compounded by my ignorance of the language, consisting of detailed stories and myths I couldn't fathom or hope to remember, was nearly impossible to read. Real myths or part of Kristoff's fiction? Important to his story or not? I didn't know. The author certainly succeeded in convincing me I was an alien introduced to an entirely different world.
• Slow pace. Very little happens in the 90 pages I read. I liked three of the scenes: the drunken gambling, the playful puppy and the childhood memory about the heroine's unusual ability to communicate with animals via telepathy. Golden nuggets of awesome in the writing of those scenes lured me into continuing. That, and the Guildsmen reminded me of Hellboy's Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. I'm not sure if that was intended or even an accurate interpretation, its just what I imagined from the description. Anyway, not much else happens between receiving orders from the Shogun to find and retrieve a griffin and actually stumbling upon one.
• Unnecessary animal cruelty. If communicating with the creature was possible, why not give it an ultimatum -i.e. stop thrashing about which will cause us to crash our airship or we'll have to clip your wings, which is it? Such a simple step and one which would've preserved this mythical specimen, perhaps the only one of its kind left, to present to the Shogun in perfect condition. I hardly see the Shogun being able to ride the griffin into battle, as he wished to, now the poor creature's wings have been clipped.
I desperately wanted to like this book for its uniqueness amongst other young adult novels, even adult ones, in not only setting a tale in a non-traditional (i.e. non-Western) place but going back to feudal times, adding steampunk and griffins -a tall order. With such lofty aspirations Stormdancer was either going to be award-winningly brilliant where we'd all be toasting Kristoff's genius, or quietly hoping to forget this overly ambitious experiment. Sadly, I'm in the latter camp. Sorry.
***My thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the e-Arc in return for an honest review.*** ________________________________
First, I'd like to apologise for cussing out Mr. Mullin's name for the first third of the book. I told myself it was only a book but it got to me. ActFirst, I'd like to apologise for cussing out Mr. Mullin's name for the first third of the book. I told myself it was only a book but it got to me. Action, terror and death almost from the very first page. I was on edge, longing to shout at Alex to shut up and listen to his woman. I decided to go without sleep at about 33%, sleep is for the weak anyway. I needed closure and I needed it NOW! I saw some of those bad things coming, they were inevitable. But...but...I got scared. Alex + Darla = formidable team, so when they got separated, in a most terrifying manner...MUST READ NOW!
Alex arrived at his uncle's farm in October, it's now April and they're experiencing a perpetual winter. No effort has been made to rebuild infrastructure or establish order. The US still appears to be in political turmoil and rumours abound. Finding Alex's parents and rescuing Darla has us re-tracing their path from Ashfall; passing through another FEMA camp and reuniting with old friends like the fearless old librarian Rita Mae from Worthington (great woman) and old enemies like Black Lake and Colonel Levitov.
"Without children we don't have a future." "Without freedom," Rita Mae yelled back, "why would we want a future?"
When I thought over Alex's actions leading to his separation from Darla and everything up to that point I realised he wasn't just an overly generous softie and arguably stupid (which he freely admits: "I'm too stupid to live. I should have never dragged Darla back out here, not for anything."). The negative adrenaline-pumping and usually deadly consequences could have unexpected silver-linings. He gains allies, information and supplies as well as lessons in future dangers by observing other towns and meeting new people. Like I previously mentioned in my Ashfall review there's a delicate balance of luck and karma. If the characters are praying for something good to happen there may be a miracle but there will always be payment. Nothing is free.
However, I could only hold my breath in desperation and fear for these characters, whilst they were apart, for so long. I couldn't maintain that level of anxiety and slowly I became detached and less interested in what was happening. And so I turned to skimming. Darla was sorely missed although I completely understand how her absence played so well into the plot and the original mission: to find, and if alive, bring home Alex's parents, as well as the subplot involving missing and presumed kidnapped, girls. The way everything just slots into place gives the illusion of mild predictability when really it's a natural progression of events.
I love Darlex (Hehe, that's so Dr. Who but much better than Peniss) having built a strong relationship in the first book (ETA: Emeli Sande's Next to Me describes it perfectly), have it tested and re-affirmed (thankfully) in this one. Absence made the heart grow fonder despite my worry to the contrary.
"If we're going to die anyway, I want to die with you. And if we live, I want to live with you."
I sincerely hope they manage to achieve their dreams of one day marrying and having children when life becomes stable and prosperous. But on a sidenote: those childbirth death certificates were heartbreaking.
I have a new favourite character -Ben. Ben suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder with social and communication problems, is incredibly intelligent and is an expert in all things military. He's a huge asset. One time he corrects his hostage-takers on their strategy, advising them on how to tighten up their formation. Jaw-droppingly hilarious. I sympathised with Alyssa, Ben's carer and "sister unit", and her attachment to Alex. Oh, that was sad. I was both shocked and as uncomfortable as Alex when she enacted her strategy with the gang. That took courage. She was stronger than she knew.
I've got to give the author props for his increasingly sickening and gory yet realistic portrayals of the fight for survival. Ripping away childhoods and replacing them with the cold, dark and horrifying reality. Showing how any decent and honest person can become an unrecognisable monster. Alex's father may have been on that slippery slope when he does something that requires the suspension of compassion i.e. torture. (view spoiler)[I'm glad that Alex's father finally came to understand Darla's importance after witnessing the changes in his son: his new strength and maturity.
"Responsibility's a cruel bitch. She comes for you whether you want it or not."
His sacrifice was heroic. Both he and Alex's mother had big brass balls playing chicken lighting up that propane tank. (hide spoiler)]
The emotions, action and characterisations in these books are superb. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book. Go, Warren! Go!
P.S. If you ever hear the words "flensers" and "long pork buffet", RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
***My thanks to Tanglewood Press for the ebook in exchange for an honest review.***["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Love Triangle Heroine: 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien. She's young, fairly inexperienced in the politics of love. Physically and mentally bouncing back from her time as a slave in the salt mines surprisingly quickly with rapidly diminishing bitterness (view spoiler)[(another reason to be bitter: I'm pretty sure the King is responsible for her parents' deaths because they're fae) (hide spoiler)] as she keeps her feelings for both men on the down low until she can't deny how close she's become to the Prince from their actions. She doesn't appear to pick up on Chaol's gestures of understanding and affection, believing he's yet to trust her not to kill someone or escape at any moment, so she doesn't play the men off against each other.
Suitor #1: 19-year-old Prince Dorian. Seducer of all women and professes he will only ever marry for love. Spoilt but not cruel, he hates his father for his unending crimes against humanity in the name of conquering the entire world. Surrounded by the weak and brainless women of court he's eager to escape he almost forces himself to become besotted by Celaena's strong-willed, feisty and intelligent nature, so very different from what he's used to. His interest is part defiance of his father and his best friend Chaol, Captain Westfall of the Royal Guard, after they warn him away from her. Celaena herself seems dazzled by his handsomeness and wishes to have a little fun by indulging his attentions. In the blink of an eye we have insta-love. Oh, the fawning they did over each other, argh. For him, this would be a great match. Celaena has the power to transform him from a boy to a man, a man fit to be king. But I don't think Celaena would get much from such a union.
Suitor #2: 22-year-old Chaol, Captain Westfall of the Royal Guard, and Celaena's trainer. The more natural of the two pairings when you think of the considerable amout of time they've spent together training. Skilled and strong, Chaol secretly grows to like her, against his will, more and more, without letting his feelings be known to anyone. Both he and Dorian experience jealously over her, while Celaena remains practically oblivious of Chaol's interest. It's a deep, slow burn from afar. Celaena was interested in Chaol to begin with but his brusque responses, with only a hint of playfulness, gave her the impression he didn't like her despite him blowing hot and cold throughout the rest of the book. Perhaps he was too subtle. While Dorian stumbles about a bit (odd for a womanizer), Chaol is the brooding, cautious and trusty rock you can always count on.
The Winner: Inconclusive. Celaena drops the Prince like a hot potato once she's finally named Champion in a way that presented her as a cold-hearted, manipulative bitch. I actually felt sorry for the guy despite finding him to be too spoilt, immature and weak to be a worthy partner. Chaol appears to be happy Celaena is on the market again as the book closes but all I could think was, "Run away! Before she breaks your heart too."
An Inconsistent Heroine As the book opens, Celaena is smart, strong-willed, fiesty and bloodthirsty. She used her quick wit and smart-mouth to embarrass and infuriate. Basically, she was badass. Trouble is, that didn't last.
Most of the trials, training and associated fighting were offstage while Celaena turned into a vain Barbie doll going to a ball and seducing the prince. I don't begrudge her femininity or the chance to be pretty again after the ugliness she'd suffered but this is not what I signed up for. It was too much.
Then she turns her hand to investigating the mysterious deaths, sleuthing, unsuccessfully I might add.
Finally, the last hurdle, the duel takes place. And it's action, action, action. (Honestly, I was so fed up by now I didn't pay much attention.) Followed by, "You're dumped!" with no thought to the Prince's feelings. For all her agonzing over the fate of slaves and the harsh treatment she'd received I thought she'd know what "tact" was. She came off as the bad guy, the assassin without a heart, exactly what they'd all thought of her in the beginning. It made me wonder if she really is playing a game of politics, calculating every move.
Predictable The mystery behind the deaths of the would-be champions was insanely obvious. We knew early on who's responsible, who's pulling the strings (view spoiler)[(The King, such a hypocrite, and we know how he rolls now don't we? Worse than Cain and the Duke sacrificing his entourage like that) (hide spoiler)], and I had a vague idea of the how. Not so mysterious. Perhaps because the reader gets the advantage of seeing things from multiple points of view I'm being too harsh on Celaena's ability to figure this all out (view spoiler)[ but using the Princess as a red herring failed miserably. Celaena should've known the Princess would never risk so much for short-term gain, that would be stupid, something she definitely is not. (hide spoiler)]
Conclusion I itched to DNF this, and to award 1 star, for the absurd (and painful to read about) love triangle, but I recognised the potential of the beginning and that of the world-building, as under-developed as it was. I wanted more action, politics and mystery, and much, much less romance. No romance at all would be fine. It's not a requirement for every single book.
*Thank you to Bloomsbury UK and Netgalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.*["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
First of all, I can't quite believe this comes from the same author that wrote The Immortal Rules. Kagawa has certainly made progress in developing heFirst of all, I can't quite believe this comes from the same author that wrote The Immortal Rules. Kagawa has certainly made progress in developing her talent. There's no question that she comes up with great ideas but The Iron King shows she wasn't always great at executing them.
The first 50% of this book severely lacked finesse and, at times, was excruciatingly painful to read. Meghan's introduction to the fae world isn't seamless. Instead of the protagonist having that "seeing is believing" moment before we have a much needed explanation, we get it after, which, under the circumstances, wasn't the way to go. I found myself thinking, "Really, and you believe him why?" to Robbie's revelation about her brother's kidnap and switcheroo with a badly behaved changling doppleganger. To me, her brother's unusual reaction to his mother's accident wasn't enough evidence to start believing in the paranormal, and for following her, possibly delusional, best friend into the unknown to rescue the real, adorably innocent, 4-year-old Ethan. In Meghan's situation, I'd be trying to figure out a way to get Robbie to a mental hospital ASAP.
Other than this, in general, Meghan's point of view wasn't compelling -it was often jarring, angsty or just plain dull, and I soon turned to skimming, mostly slowing just for dialogue, which soon turned to skipping pages altogether. I don't think I missed much, lending to the idea that this wasn't as concise as it could've been. After the halfway point the prose became a little more readable so I slowed down but didn't stop skimming completely.
The Iron King has many influences ranging from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream to Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. I haven't read the former so I didn't get those references but I'm definitely familiar with the latter, and I really liked what she took from that work and made it her own.
I enjoyed Kagawa's descriptions of the fey world. The use of seasons for the environments for each fae court: summer for the "good" Seelie court and winter for the "evil" Unseelies, was a nice touch. I also liked that human belief was the magical source of strength and immortality for the fae, and the effect of human technological progress where iron rules, deadly to fey, had created this third court where the corrosive iron is poisoning the fey world as it expands, soon to be encroaching on Summer and Winter territory. I've always been a fan of politics and manipulation in books and with the regular use of binding contracts by the fey, this element pleased me.
Unfortunately, the characters within this world are pretty much throwaways, I cared so little for them.
Our protagonist, Meghan isn't someone I rooted for. She's a non-character in my eyes. She's naive, loyal to her detriment, and has the potential to unnecessarily become a martyr making her ever so slightly irritating, but otherwise she lacks a personality. She not your typical fey, or half-fey. She's stubbornly human. Which reminds me, she's also a hormonal, horny teen salivating over Prince Ash's cold beauty. There'd be no tears if she accidentally "fell" off a cliff.
[Sidenote: She's had 3 fathers. One biological and 2 stepdads, one of which she believed to be her real father who disappeared out of thin air when she was very young. I wonder what happened to him. I'm guessing her biological daddy had a hand in it.]
Robbie, Meghan's Grover and sidekick is nice and supportive with hints of having a crush on her, no doubt developed from Bodyguard Syndrome -instead of just guarding her body for all those years he started admiring it. His transformation into Puck in the fae world, I didn't like. On the one hand, his comedic flair added levity but on the other, he came across as a bit of an ass. This might be down to his difficult relationship with Ash, and later, his jealousy of Meghan's interest in Ash. I had hope he'd die before he makes his crush known (because obviously he will), thereby creating the dreaded Love Triangle. His presence, in effect, ended up creating more conflict rather than offering familiar comfort for Meghan during her journey to reclaim her brother.
Prince Ash, third son of Mab (the ruler of the Unseelie court) intrigued me to begin with. His verbal threat to kill Meghan while dancing with her had me sitting up and paying attention. His unwilling attraction to Meghan leads to a Romeo & Juliet angst-filled situation (I'm fed up of those in YA) although I'm not sure what exactly he's attracted to. Perhaps he senses an opportunity for an easy lay. Oops, I forgot. It's YA. There's none of that evil sex here, but there's nothing romantic about the pairing. They've been slapped together out of necessity, and if anything, physical lust is all that's between them.
The relationship of any substance in this book was between Ash and Puck. Previously the best of friends until Puck made an unintended mistake resulting in a deadly accident Ash has been unable to forgive. Since that disastrous day he's promised to kill Puck, meeting him in a number of skirmishes in which it seems clear that Puck has always had the advantage but has no wish to harm Ash. I think they deeply love one another. If either of them ever kill the other, I believe there would be deep regret.
The Cheshire Cat Grimalkin, the sarcastic talking cat, is easily the best character in the book. He's an independent outsider, content to observe the entertaining train wreck that is Meghan, Ash and Puck, as it unfolds, only offering help when it benefits him. However, he appears aware these are the only people able to save his homeland (and himself) from extinction so in emergencies he gives much needed aid freely without a price attached. He saved their lives many times. If Grimalkin had been narrating this book it would've been a far more delightful and humorous read.
Ash's contract with Meghan, his help recovering her brother in exchange for her willingly going with him to the Unseelie court and his waiting mother's hands, was obviously going to create fodder for another book but I just so wish for more stand alones. I don't like "crack" series -series with books which aren't that great but which you become addicted due to tantalizing (or agonizing) hooks thrown out by authors (e.g. cliffhangers), and The Iron Fey has all the markings of such. I want to read the next book but I have serious doubts after also reading Winter's Passage. I imagine it would be a frustrating experience I have no desire to put myself through.
*Bought in the UK Kindle Spring Spectacular 2011....more
Never have my Western morals, pre-conceptions and beliefs been more challenged than when reading Stiff. No one wants to consider their own mortality aNever have my Western morals, pre-conceptions and beliefs been more challenged than when reading Stiff. No one wants to consider their own mortality and make any arrangements for the afterlives of their bodies. Being confronted with the cold hard reality of nature, science and history of death was an uncomfortable, disgusting and enlightening experience. Those of a delicate disposition and strong religious belief will find this a particularly difficult and offensive read. But honestly, they should suck it up and read it anyway, hopefully with an open mind. My views were unexpectedly changed on quite a few issues. Nothing was as clear-cut and simple as I assumed they would be.
I share Roach's feelings towards cadavers:
’Cadavers are our superheroes: They brave fire without flinching, withstand falls from tall buildings and head-on car crashes into walls. You can fire a gun at them or run a speedboat over their legs, and it will not faze them. Their heads can be removed with no deleterious effect. They can be in six places at once.’
Cadavers can be:
✺ Used to train doctors. Historically, and currently, controversial. I was surprised by how much respect is shown by students to their cadavers, and I can completely understand why they hold memorial services for them as an emotional outlet for how disturbing it is to injure and deliberately disfigure another (albeit dead) human being. Digital anatomy instruction and/or plastination (I’ll explain later) may replace the dissection of the dead.
✺ Stolen from their graves and sold to medical schools. Thousands of body-snatchers or Resurrectionists (hehe!) made a career out of it, including the infamous murderers, Burke and Hare.
✺ Sex objects, i.e. necrophilia. Self-explanatory, that, eh? *wink, wink*
✺ Used to study decay on body farms, where cadavers are placed in controlled conditions and left to decompose, returning at pre-determined intervals to examine the results, which can later be used to determine cause and time of death.
✺ Embalmed. The ultimate plastic surgery, turning the old youthful once again. Morticians actually have to paint wrinkles on the elderly so their relations can recognise them. Morticians sanitize the body, plug the orifices ("Will we be suturing the anus?") and replace the fluids with formaldehyde, a toxic preservative. Much the same is done with the language used to describe their ‘clients’. Wrinkles are ‘facial markings’, a stiff is the ‘decedent’.
✺ Used to test safety as crash test dummies, improving vehicle safety and ultimately saving lives as a result.
✺ Used to determine the cause of plane crashes. Not all wreckage is recoverable and sometimes only the dead can tell you how and why a plane crashed. This chapter was particularly interesting, detailing many facts about the aerospace industry you really don't want to know if you ever want to fly again.
✺ Used to prove or disprove Jesus's crucifixion. Forgive me, but I believe Dr. Pierre Babet was batshit crazy. To put it more mildly, fanatically religious, obsessed devoted to Catholicism, and didn't much care about the people whose limbs he was cutting off, for perhaps mild injuries, to further his quest for the ultimate, undeniable proof that Christ was wrapped in the, now defunct, Shroud of Turin in 1931. If he did indeed amputate healthy limbs, it was uncalled for. No lives were hanging in the balance. So, for once, I can, while reading this book, definitively say that I would be sickened if this was so.
✺ Used to test munitions, though it’s taboo. The purpose is to take lives in order save lives. Ballistics gelatine and animals are the more common targets. The shooting and blowing up of live pigs and other animals for the training of military doctors, is also controversial. But which would you prefer: dead soldiers and alive pigs, or alive soldiers and dead pigs? I think if you had family and friends in the armed forces you’d rather those pigs die. Honestly, I was horrified when I heard about this practice on the news and yet after reading this, I completely understand why it's necessary. If there were no guns or bombs, surgeons wouldn't need these skills in the first place.
✺ Organ donors. Beating-heart cadavers are brain-dead (i.e. legally dead). On the one hand, one person can save many lives. Alternatively, the actual process is quite upsetting. Organs are removed while the donor still has a pulse, including the heart, which is the last to be cut out, and continues to beat ominously afterwards, for a few minutes. Although gender can be discerned from an ECG by a heart surgeon as they beat slightly differently, contrary to popular belief, transplant recipients do not begin to exhibit traits of their donor’s. A wildly inaccurate myth.
✺ Used to experiment with new surgical techniques. Head transplants have been attempted, both with humans and animals. Real-life Frankenstein here, people. Both disturbing and grotesque. I’m not religious, but even I was throwing out words like ‘unnatural’ and ‘barbaric’ while reading the various experiments. Shockingly, a transplanted monkey head was responsive for a few days before it died. Yes, it’s most definitely cruel, though I took Roach’s point that if a way was found to reattach the spinal column/cord, paralysis could be a thing of the past. Still, this head will only ever know one body and will hopefully remain attached until body and brain are decomposing.
✺ Used for food, i.e. cannibalism. Alive aside, this practice generally isn’t acceptable in the West in current times, apart from the placenta. Historically, and in the East, almost every body part was ingested in the name of medicine. Chinese women used to cut off a body part and cook it for their mother-in-laws. Today, the Chinese still find aborted human foetuses a delicacy. I really want to judge them for this, but wild animals eat their dead. Nothing’s wasted. Personally, I’d be worried about kuru, the incurable degenerative neurological disorder contracted via cannibalism.
Roach details the options for your body after death:
(Click table to enlarge)
Plastination, developed by Gunther von Hagens (you may have been to one of his exhibits or seen one of his TV shows), seems rather gimmicky to me and possibly expensive, though Roach never says how much it costs. For me, the tissue digestion seems the most 'natural', but I won't be surprised if human compost becomes popular since Roach notes the interest of the general public, many investors and funeral corporations, especially in Scandinavia. However, in the final chapter, I was swayed by the argument that it should be up to those you've left behind to decide what happens to your corpse. Or at least a compromise on what you're all most comfortable with to avoid conflicting moral or religious belief. That's if you have that conversation at all. Many don't, at least not in any real detail.
But there's another possibility. Even if you choose a traditional burial, future archealogists may dig up your bones hundreds of years from now and decide to display them in museums around the world. Not much you can do about that. And as I said in the table, a number of cemeteries have been moved or built over, so "your final resting place" may not actually be your final resting place. And in a world with finite resources, including the ever-decreasing acres of land in the face of rampant population growth, showing no signs of slowing, this is the most likely scenario. Better to pick something more permanent, if you ask me, or your naked skeleton could be eyeballed by your descendants, without your permission.
Informed consent is a tricky thing. In ye olde times, doctors and students took advantage of the poor and while performing surgery on them, did a little unnecessary exploration resulting in 'gratuitous pelvic exams' and 'superfluous appendectomies'. Donated cadavers were so rare that body snatchers were more likely to steal the bodies of the poor because the rich had the money to employ thief prevention techniques. Today, people want to know what will be done to their bodies when they donate it to science, and we should have that right, but the reality is so off-putting that you won't be told. You can only specify what it can't be used for.
Roach really takes a sympathetic approach to those that work with cadavers. You can tell she had real difficulty in the first few chapters, coming to terms with her first-hand experiences with the decaying and dismantled dead. Her humour isn't particularly humorous in those moments, because she's clearly uncomfortable and doesn't quite know how to process or write about them. I sympathised. Reading it was discomfiting, being there ... I'm not sure I could've merely observed as Roach did, without running screaming or vomiting my breakfast, especially while smelling the foul stench of decay. I'm fairly certain I could never watch the removal of organs from the beating-heart cadaver. The way it's described, it's too much akin to killing someone, even though you know they're brain dead and will never wake up.
It's hard to be judgmental when the author presents a balanced view on all topics. My initial gut reaction regarding a few things was most definitely disgust and horror, but after Roach told the other side of the story, I found some tolerance and understanding beneath the abhorrence. So if you go in with an open mind, you'll be rewarded.
I urge everyone to read this book, and to seriously consider the issues therein. It may help you decide what you want to happen to your body after you die. Anything that makes a difficult decision a little easier, is a good thing.
An essential, thought-provoking and educational read....more
What would happen if the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupted? Ashfall attempts to answer that question by following Alex, a typical 15-year-old boy froWhat would happen if the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupted? Ashfall attempts to answer that question by following Alex, a typical 15-year-old boy from the day his world falls apart at home alone while his family are over a hundred miles away visiting his uncle to his quest to be reunited with his family.
What about a supervolcano erupting is so devastating? Ash. Lots and lots of toxic ash. It covers fields, pollutes the waterways, inhale too much it can kill both animals and humans. It's consistency is so fine it can stick to everything, in small amounts slippery to walk on and once mixed with rain can become like thick mud and when it dries it can harden like concrete. It can be so heavy, the pressure on a roof can bring down a building. Travel becomes almost impossible. No air traffic, trains and cars. Walking is the only option. (Or skiing. Cross-country skiing works, too.) Amenities like electricity and communications are down other than a few radio broadcasts. Civilisation has been brought to a standstill.
Apart from the first quarter of the book which was slow and somewhat boring, that all changed once we met Darla. She brought a much needed spark to this book as an intriguing, prickly, independent and resourceful farm girl who's not afraid of a little blood (understatement!) with the mind of an engineer and a MacGyver-like ability to repair and create things out of anything. Basically, she's awesome and definitely someone you want on your side in a crisis. She's one of many strong women in the book.
I loved Darla but I also loved the effect Darla had on Alex. He learns a lot from her -techniques on how to find and prepare food (those scenes may turn meat-lovers vegetarian, you have been warned), that survival can mean doing things that pre-apocalypse you'd judge people for but not now, and (view spoiler)[how to love someone so much they'll die/kill for them. (hide spoiler)] He starts the book as a sheltered city boy, a nerd, a naive 15-year-old with a black belt in martial arts and ends it about 6 months later, a man of 16, hardened by what he'd seen and done. His generosity and compassion were remarkable, could be considered stupid, but still, he didn't abandon his humanity, his morals, when it really counted. Alex even makes a very mature decision that fully grown adults wouldn't.
Luck. Mullin balances this quite well. In pre-apocalyptic life luck plays a role but now luck is everything. Alex's journey means his life is always in danger, he suffers as do those around him but he's also quite lucky. Some of his clouds have silver linings, like meeting Darla. If he hadn't been injured they'd never have met and he would be dead.
It could be argued that at times Alex is too lucky although I wouldn't say that because although the situation is bleak there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. I didn't come away from this book feeling depressed despite the subject matter. There's plenty of deep, dark reality: people die in both passive and violent manners, there's the constant feeling of uncertainty. That safe feeling we take for granted no longer exists. The main characters learn from others' experiences as well as by trial and error so it all feels realistic. And there's a bit of humour too.
Alex encounters a great many people and situations: those that are coping, predators, victims, cannabalism, sickness, rescue centres, towns that work together, the religious, etc. They paint a shocking, desperate and vivid picture of what a cataclysmic disaster can do to a western civilisation. Although I do think this is very USA-specific, well it has to be since the supervolcano is at Yellowstone but the availability of guns and the government rescue centre and military responses weren't erm, practical. It's diabolical that the military would care more about politics and money when food is so scarce, their lack of compassion was astonishing considering their main role is to protect the people instead of (view spoiler)[imprisoning and torturing them through neglect. (hide spoiler)] Only in America(?).
As for the wider world, it was really strange to see Chinese humanitarian missions granted permission to help the US. And this:
"The vice president concluded his remarks with strong words for 'those nations whose hoarding and profiteering cause the collapse of the international grain markets.' He pledged to use the full force of the United States to insure an equitable..."
Yeah, the US has become a third world country overnight I'm sure they have a huge influence on the world now. /sarcasm
Two things I really like about this book:
The teenage boy thinks about sex, in a YA book. The teenage girl is older than the boy.
They're probably really strange things to pick up on but I've read quite a few books where the boys have pure non-sexual thoughts and are always, always older than the girl, sometimes by centuries. This is a very welcome and refreshing change.
I'm quite surprised by how much I liked Ashfall, how many times I uttered an "oh my god", "eww" and "oh no!", worrying about how they were going to get out of this or that scrape. I was rooting for Alex and Darla the whole way, hoping they'd survive with as few physical and mental scars as possible, and make it to their goal.
I started this book 60 miles away from home, not the best time, and I wondered what I would do if tragedy struck right then, and my first thought was to get out of the city. Londoners can be scary at the best of times I certainly don't want to get caught there in a crisis. I'm not sure how I'd fare on a journey like Alex's and how it would end for me. Starvation? Suicide? Murder? Would I make it home? Would you?
*Warning: This book contains strong violence, animal slaughter and human suffering.
'What kind of girl cuddles with a cute rabbit she name Buck one minute and the next smashes its skull with a hammer to scoop out its brains?'
'Something about brains and milkshakes didn't compute. Had I wondered into a bad zombie movie?'
'I knew I'd regret leaving Darla, but my family mattered more than some girl I'd just met and barely knew.'
"And I'm not an idiot. And this is getting old. I know you've probably got ash in your panties, but do you have to take it out on me?"
"I...look, it's not logical, but I feel safe with you. I should be freaked out by the dead guy in the room behind us, but I'm not. I know I'd be safer in Worthington, but I didn't feel that way when I woke up that morning and you weren't there."
"When you followed me out of Worthington, that was my real birthday present."
"As it happens I only volunteered to be a camp prostitute. I didn't have to go through with it. But so what if I had? So what if I screwed every motherless guard in that godforsaken camp?" "I don't-" "Would that have made me less of a woman in your mind? Less of a person? Just one of those girls, the easy ones, the ones the high-school cliques gossip about and call sluts? Is that the kind of boy you are, Alex? Is that the man you want to be?"
***Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.***["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Waterboarding babies. Shit. I’m not a parent but in that moment I doubt a person could feel anything but a strong urge to protect and defend. Highly dWaterboarding babies. Shit. I’m not a parent but in that moment I doubt a person could feel anything but a strong urge to protect and defend. Highly disturbing. I was reminded of Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority figures and the Stanford prison experiment, both very famous psychological studies about the pressures of conforming to a specific role, whether dominant or submissive and highlights the extraordinary strength it takes to break away from it. If the mother of that baby refused to obey by not drowning her baby in ice-filled water, the consequences could’ve been dire.
In the minds of those living in the compound there's this life and nothing else. They refuse to believe that life outside could be any better than the life they’re living now, even when that means torturing and killing your own children or handing them over to paedophiles and rapists. Frustrating, but then they've been indoctrinated from birth, raised not to question the order of things and are told to believe everything is "God's Will".
Very few are strong enough to refuse to continue with the farce that rewards a handful of old lecherous men and condemns everyone else, especially the young and defenceless. If you rebel, you'll be lucky to receive a quick death, if you’re really lucky you get married off to a nice man with only a couple of wives, and if the universe is smiling down on you and the planets are in alignment you might escape with your life and live to breathe another day only to look over your shoulder for the rest of your days.
I’ve noticed that in some of the negative reviews of this book people expected or wanted a realistic depiction of polygamy and that’s not what this is about. The Chosen One reflects the sensational, the newscaster’s dream: the paedophile cultists e.g. Warren Jeffs, sociopathic religious extremists who warp the media’s perception of this way of life so people wrongly come to automatically associate the word “paedophile” with “polygamy”.
Polygamy is not inextricably linked with religion and paedophilia, it is simply, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time." That is all.
If you want a more modern and realistic view of polygamy then this isn’t for you, watch HBO's “Big Love” instead.
Despite this, the book does bring up some important positive and negative points concerning polygamy, for example, more caregivers to bring up the children, sharing a husband can lead to tension and jealousy, etc.
Also, the choice of not using any form of contraception lead to Kyra's 3 mothers having had 19 children, meaning that each child has less one-to-one time with a caregiver and everyone having little-to-no alone time, with the older children forced to act as parents themselves. (On a personal note, I find having so many children incredibly selfish and irresponsible in this day and age where infant mortality is now quite low.) Add to this the overcrowding as each mother has one small, decrepit trailer to house their growing number of offspring. Unless of course their husband happens to be an elevated elder or an Apostle or the Prophet, in which case they'll have a luxurious mansion.
I did, however, wonder how everyone’s fed, clothed and sheltered. Where did the money come from? Who was footing the bill for the land devoid of condoms, and therefore an ever increasing population? They do keep costs down by leading rustic and prudish lifestyles with few mod-cons by making their own clothes, growing their own food, etc. but that only goes so far, at some point you've got to spend some money. For example, the trip to town to buy fabric and afterwards having lunch in a restaurant.
This book covers a number of distasteful topics which some readers may want to avoid:
Forced marriage, Paedophilia and Rape, of unwilling wives. (Forced marriage is illegal in the UK whether the marriage is to take place here or abroad, the law protects the victim no matter their age.)
Blackmail, of those who disobey or their relatives. Husbands can be forced to leave the compound and have their wives and children given to other men who are encouraged to treat them like shit.
Beatings, as a means of control and punishment.
Murder, of runaways, those that attempt to rescue anyone on the compound, those who disobey, and of disabled babies -very Spartan of them.
Incest, not a routine part of the compound. It seems it's more to satisfy Kyra's 60 year old uncle's lust for her 13-year-old body.
One of my favourite parts of this book was Joshua's admission to wanting Kyra and only Kyra for his wife. How romantic is that? Aww.
My rating is 3.5 stars because although we were given a look into what life might be like for those oppressed and used in the cults that make the headlines the writing wasn't as emotive as I would expect it to be apart for the baby torture. This book had the potential to bring me to tears but it didn't quite do it even with the desperate way it ended....more
I do enjoy a good dystopian, I do. But I have standards.
Any dystopian worth its salt absolutely must have:
Characters to root for The split POV betweenI do enjoy a good dystopian, I do. But I have standards.
Any dystopian worth its salt absolutely must have:
Characters to root for The split POV between the hero and heroine didn't do them any favours. Their personalities are so similar they're practically the same person. Only their differing circumstances told me which POV I was reading.
Robin Hood Day and Maid Marian June are superheroes with superhuman abilities and a penchant for taking risks. They can scale multistory buildings in mere seconds, they possess super sharp eyesight, have excellent strategy and fighting skills and their IQs must match those of Mensa prodigies. Authority figures are there to be disobeyed and humiliated. No rule is too small to be broken. Murder is a line not to be crossed.
These are fifteen-year-olds we're talking about here. Fifteen.
Character growth is non-existent. I don't count the opening of June's eyes because it didn't change her outlook on life, she just channeled her efforts in a different direction.
Did I care for any of the characters? No. They never endeared themselves to me. Both character deaths meant nothing. We didn't get to know them therefore, no shock, no tears.
Solid worldbuilding How did this world come to be? I don't know. Do I fully understand the inner workings of the world as it is now? Not really. It's all very vague. There's a war going on and the baddies, this militaristic government, appear to be winning. But that's all in the background and not the focus of this book.
A worthy cause to get invested in Did I feel outraged by the events in the book? No. It was monotonous. The cause wasn't obvious from the beginning though it became a little clearer at the very end. The trials and the plague were downplayed when they should've been ever-present in the readers' minds for the revelations at the end to be meaningful. Mostly there's just a general disparity between the rich and the poor. Anyway, the more you read, the more predictable everything became. There is, however, a mission to be carried out in the next book, which may end up being far more interesting than this one. Legend may well be a prequel to the real action.
After several attempts to read this it failed to intrigue me, and because it's due back at the library I had to force myself to finish by skimming. I hope no one judges the dystopian genre by this book.
Okay, so I’ve read 7 books by Keri Arthur and I can’t take it any more. This is one of her more recent books so I mistakenly thought the problems I exOkay, so I’ve read 7 books by Keri Arthur and I can’t take it any more. This is one of her more recent books so I mistakenly thought the problems I experienced with the Damask Circle trilogy, published 10 years ago, wouldn’t be repeated here.
Destiny Kills had a premise with great promise and the power to be unforgettable but it was ruined by a number of re-occuring factors concerning Arthur’s books and writing style.
First off, sex. Nothing can get in the way of sex and the I-love-yous. Not even romance. There's a lot of love-at-first-sight fated-to-be-mated because her, sometimes wooden characters, are incapable of falling in love gradually. Now, if Arthur was a writer of erotica this probably wouldn’t be a problem. But paranormal romance tends to require some sort of storyline, a reason for the hero and heroine to meet each other and for a little time to pass together before they start bumping uglies. I prefer there to be a balance between plot and sex. And plot almost always comes last with this author.
The beginnings of Arthur’s books are mostly very weak and Destiny Kills was no exception. Our heroine is on an unknown beach with a dead body with no memory of how he died, her name or what she’s doing there. Only she knows his name and his relationship to her. She knows they’re both non-human and how to traditionally dispose of his body with the proper ceremony. I’m no expert on amnesia but I have witnessed it first hand, and I find it unlikely that she would remember all of that so quickly.
I wondered why exactly the author decided to start the book at that exact point:
Destiny’s a child when her mother is kidnapped. Destiny and her dad run away to the US.
Aged 18, attempting a rescue, Destiny is kidnapped.
10 years of confinement: includes experimentation (read: torture), forced coupling with Egan (i.e. rape), protecting the dragon children who’re also confined.
Escapes aged 28, with Egan, leaving the children behind after her mother feels Destiny’s father dying.
On the run, caught and Egan’s killed.
[The book starts.]
Beginning the book a little earlier while Destiny is still imprisoned would’ve provided better background and a sense of urgency for her escape. Obviously Arthur wasn’t scared of harsh reality and if we’d witnessed Destiny’s living conditions and how she was treated before escape I could’ve felt sympathy, encouraging me to be invested in her mission. We also could’ve met Egan who was apparently a big part of her life, before he died. The flashbacks weren’t enough. They’re too brief, often confusing with little context to fully understand what happened and the effect on Destiny’s behaviour.
Which leads me to another thing, Destiny, although not unaffected by her experience as a lab rat, she’s remarkably and suspiciously functional. I’d expect panic attacks, crying, not wanting to be touched, crippling anger –some sort of post-traumatic stress. She experiences one moment of it: when she’d had to shoot someone in the head during her escape. That’s it. She seems more concerned about dishonouring Egan by moving on too quickly with his half-brother, Trae.
Where are all the people? We live on a planet of 7 billion people and yet most of Arthur’s books (excluding Riley Jensen) contain two characters, and if you’re lucky 3 others with a sentence of dialogue each. There are no side characters, no sidekicks. There’s only one POV: Destiny’s. The scope is too narrow. They’re not the only two people in the world. Neither have friends or family. They receive no calls to check-in after going AWOL. Destiny has an excuse but then the kids, I would think, would be her family but we don’t hear much from them. Trae is an outcast who hates his father but what about friends, his mother? Not everyone is a lone wolf. Contact with other characters can be a means of showing what our heroes and heroines are really like, can provide a little light entertainment to an otherwise challenging or bleak situation, or a reason to hate the villains. Evil scientists were the villains but we didn’t get to see them being evil. We were told.
The epilogue is a rushed summary of events. Events therein could’ve been expanded so we might properly understand the effects of being confined on Destiny and the children during the search for their parents. We could’ve met Trae’s mother and seen her reaction to Destiny, figured out what kind of relationship she had with her son and how she felt about Trae’s father. Emotional relationships are very important and yet they are ignored.
I was incredibly frustrated by the lack of depth to the plot and to the characters. So much more could’ve been done to make this book special. Disappointing.
My history with Keri Arthur: 2 Damask Circle trilogy books(pub. 2001-2) [PNR]* 2 Ripple Creek Werewolf duology books (pub. 2003-4) [PNR]** 2 Riley Jensen books (pub. 2006-7) [UF] 1 Myth & Magic book (pub. 2008) [PNR]
*I own the last in the trilogy, which I may or may not read. **The best of the bunch. ...more
Gotta be honest; I don't like contemporary romance, but just look at my rating. And my shelving. Says it all, doesn't it?
What an emotional rollercoastGotta be honest; I don't like contemporary romance, but just look at my rating. And my shelving. Says it all, doesn't it?
What an emotional rollercoaster! For hero and heroine.
Jacqueline's a positive female role model, Lucas, a worthy tortured hero, together forming a healthy but not-without-problems relationship, which gradually develops after the hero saves the heroine from an attempted rape and helps her cope with the aftermath of both this and her prior breakup with her boyfriend of three years. Panic. Fear. Grief.
Every possible angle is covered on the topic of rape without lecturing readers, although not entirely free from cliché. By that, I reference Legally Blonde and say 'sorority sisters' and leave it at that. Standard reactions to rape included here were the common misconceptions, animosity, victim-blaming, slut-shaming and disbelief from the community, to unexpected support and genuine anger aimed squarely where it belongs -on the rapist. As it should. Message loud and clear. And happily received.
Jacqueline's growth and emerging strength and empowerment with the help of her roommate and Lucas see her attending self-defense classes and learning to squash down her panic in order to think clearly for long enough to protect herself. Knee that attacking rapist in the NUTSACK!
Along the way, she reevaluates her relationships and life path, realising the mistakes she's made, settling for an unhappy, stifling relationship with ex-boyfriend Kennedy, and decides she deserves better. She womans-up and gets on with pursuing a happier future. You go, girl!
But Jacqueline's not the only one with problems. Lucas has a devastating, harrowing event in his past he feels undeserved crippling guilt over, showing reasons for his behaviour, his multiple jobs -both paid and unpaid- the force with which he uses to protect Jacqueline. Heart-meltingly sad. Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry.
An unbelievably sweet and tender relationship forms between these two that had me on the edge of my seat, cheering for them, hoping for a happy ending. Every bump in the road was a painful one. If Easy had been a dead tree book nothing in the world would've stopped me from peeking at the ending. Luckily, it wasn't, and I'm glad I didn't spoil it for myself. It was totally worth waiting for.
Emotional ups and downs, fully developed characters, important themes and a clear message all should understand. It could be perceived as an anti-Twilight or anti-Beautiful Disaster. In any case, recommended reading for older teens and those in their early twenties, girls in particular....more
Dark illustrations enhancing highly emotive topics expertly written and presented in a wonderfully tactile and beautifulOh, I need a hug.
Dark illustrations enhancing highly emotive topics expertly written and presented in a wonderfully tactile and beautiful book.
A Monster Calls is an important and powerful piece of artwork, an absolute must read for every child. It deals with death, divorce, alienation, bullying, guilt, blame, the weight of responsibilty and basically the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Everyone has or will experience these things and Conor's anxious journey through this complicated maze of thoughts and emotions perfectly demonstrates the reality of dealing with the obstacles in life in the most touching manner possible. This sense of depth and painful truths is not something you usually see in children's books which makes this even more special....more
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believedCue The X-Files theme tune.
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believed Mulder to be just another nutty alien-enthusiast. That is, until Scully witnessed strange events for herself and her whole world view changes.
"The truth is out there."
The above reflects this first "episode" of Turbulence. First Officer Paul Conin is cast in the role of Scully, the newbie sceptic. Dallas, a flight attendant, is Mulder to Paul's Scully. And like Mulder & Scully, I fully expect these two to get it on. ;)
The first scene, detailing the suicide of the previous First Officer, is a bit confusing but I expect it will all slot into place later on. I look forward to learning more about what happens at the end. (view spoiler)[I wonder why the passengers are "taken" (if that's the correct term) and not the crew. And where do they go? (hide spoiler)]
Guess what I'm reading next? :D["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Unfortunately The Restorer reminded me of Prophecy of the Sisters due to the dreadfully slow pace and verbose prose reminiscent of 19th century literaUnfortunately The Restorer reminded me of Prophecy of the Sisters due to the dreadfully slow pace and verbose prose reminiscent of 19th century literature but without the flair and beauty of the prominent writers of the time who could effortlessly produce graceful descriptions of a haunting nature, Victorian gothic-style. Edgar Allan Poe, for example. The dialogue, also, had an oddly formal quality to it that most modern English speakers don't use anymore. This made the book seem unnecessarily long-winded like an incessantly chatty person who goes on and on about nothing in particular.
Very little happened in the first half, it was painfully boring and repetitive (her father's damn rules), and the second was almost as bad. The scenes down in the well and it's tunnels were the most fascinating sections in the book but they only constitute perhaps 50 pages in total. Within those pages we get a glimpse at Amelia and Devlin's psyches as they explored those ancient and neglected passageways, trying to find a way out, hoping they wouldn't stumble upon the murderer in the dark shadows where he would have the upper hand.
Amelia is hollow. Devoid of meaningful experiences. Virginal. Naive. She's an eternal good girl with a lifeless but practical life, a perfectionist. Almost robotic. Constrained by her father's rules and her own fear that she'll attract the attention of a ghost which could attach itself to her and psychically drain her energy, she's never thought to break them even once to see what would happen. Until now, sort of. Passively. She doesn't actively break them, she just lets things naturally progress instead of stepping back as she was told to by her father. This makes her both an uninteresting and irksome heroine who's only appearance of growth is the emergence of curiosity as she turns amateur detective. What is there to like about that?
Devlin, the homicide detective, is almost the opposite. He has spirit (dulled somewhat by his guilt and grief over the loss of his wife and child, whose ghosts are sucking the life out of him), and from what others have said; he once was a very passionate man. But still, we don't really get to know him past his strong sense of honor, justice and nobility.
The romance aspect isn't one I cared for. Stevens appears to snap her fingers, forcing their chemistry, their kiss. The tug of war: Devlin's unconscious succubus-like siphoning of Amelia's strength when they're physically close, her father's warnings telling her to walk away, together with Devlin's reluctance to let his dead wife and daughter go so he can move on plus the ever-presence of their ghosts, against their mutual attraction, was tiresome and in no way was that war resolved here.
Pushed into the background was the mystery. Everything was concentrated on the deaths and burials but not the hunt for the killer. Also, too many other things were going on, too many unrevealed secrets and answers to questions Amelia's never been brave enough to ask her parents about. Ones that aren't unveiled in this book. My mind didn't try to solve the mystery of the murderer, I think, because I didn't care.
I didn't care. I wasn't invested in the outcome, the characters or the writing. I wasn't enchanted by the imagery or chilled by the ghosts. I felt the book was unfocused and aimless, unproductive. It needed tightening up, to be whipped into shape for a faster pace and a clearer message would've made Amelia's first journey out into the real world far more enjoyable....more
My mother is the only reason I managed to finish this book. She loved Divergent and has just finished re-reading it but for some reason she wanted meMy mother is the only reason I managed to finish this book. She loved Divergent and has just finished re-reading it but for some reason she wanted me to read this one first so I had to force myself to finish.
This time around I had no connection to the characters. They seemed drastically different. More juvenile with lots of sulking and ruminating on problems. Everything is seen through the lens of Tris and Four's relationship which acted as a means of constant personal conflict. I had no patience for the angst that came out of that conflict, or for Tris's new-found suicidal nature. I was here for the dystopia, for the tragedies, hard choices and sacrifices to be made. One of the few good scenes is when the Erudite deliver a message to the Divergent (which are more numerous than first thought), to Tris, via a kind of suicide note, and Tris is forced to make a split-second decision of who to save and who to sacrifice. That was startling and gruesome, and exactly what I was looking for.
As for Marcus the robot, Marcus the mouthpiece -I found his character difficult to comprehend. He's an empty character the reader is supposed to hate but it's hard to do so when he doesn't show emotion or react to anything despite being publicly beaten by his own son. He has no comeback. He says nothing. Why did he submit Four to repeated physical abuse? There's no answer because he doesn't acknowledge he did it or the accusations. Other than a hate figure, he's a mouthpiece for plot progression. Without him we wouldn't find out the secret to this dystopian dynamic.
Peter is an odd one. I guess you could say he's a frenemy -an enemy who can also be an ally under the right circumstances. I wonder how close he is to his family. Does he love them? Love seems an alien thing to him and now that he's been reunited with them, will he fight for them? Will he change?
As I grew closer to the last page and freedom, I swore if Roth introduced zombies outside "the fence" the book would meet the wall at lightning speed. It didn't happen but it was close.
The ending is drawn out and predictable, concluding with a revelation, plus cliffhanger. By now I just wanted this book to be over. I'm only mildly curious:
- What the relationship is between Tris and this Edith Prior.
- About the significance of being divergent in light of this new information. How can that help whatever's left outside the fence?
Insurgent feels very padded. Not a lot happens for a long time. It needed to be tighter, punchier, be a more faithful continuation of Divergent's story and characters, and less about romantic entanglements.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Yes, Eloisa James gave Dr. Gregory House a happily ever after. Her intention all along according to the 'Historical Note'3½★ Meet Piers AKA "The Beast".
Yes, Eloisa James gave Dr. Gregory House a happily ever after. Her intention all along according to the 'Historical Note' at the end.
They share the same scowl, a limp and use of a cane resulting from the same infarction in his quadriceps muscle of the leg producing constant pain, his abhorrence of lying patients, and misanthropic, blunt, bad-tempered, narcissistic and playfully insulting nature. They both have "ducklings" -a group of doctors who follow him in order to learn how to better diagnose patients because Piers is the leading man in his field. The name "Cuddy" is also mentioned and Sebastien appears to be Piers's Dr. Wilson.
Sebastien: I know that you have an affinity for unhappiness. In fact, paradoxically, you don't feel truly happy unless you are unhappy. The way to do that is to push away the people who give a damn about your nasty hide. Me, for one - except that I'm impossible to dislodge, so you seem to have give up on me. [...] Piers: My leg hurts like a son of a bitch. Sebastien: You and your leg can keep each other company at night, then. No room for a woman, given the terrible injury you've suffered.
Addiction to pain relief is the only thing they don't share, only because Piers's father was the addict and Piers wishes to never become like him. Instead Piers swims every morning in an ocean tide-filled pool to help relieve stiffness and pain, giving him a swimmer's body and great upper body strength.
After silliness in the first 50 or so pages with names like "Mrs Flaccide" (I feel sorry for her husband), and doctors Kibbles and Bitts (I kid you not), and the back-and-forth about Linnet's terrible downfall and what to do about it, the book took off.
The sexual chemistry between Linnet and Piers is palpable as they challenge each other with witty insults. Piers immediately sees past her beauty to her brains and her power to manipulate his sex, and she looks past his beastly demeanor to the man underneath. They get to know each other via their barbed conversations which lead to their daily tension-filled, fan-worthy, swimming lessons.
For most of the book I was merely entertained. The innkeepers' ghastly treatment of Linnet, her suffering and Piers struggling to care for her by himself, led me to become emotionally effected. Homicidal anger at the innkeepers for their inhuman actions, empathy for Linnet's pain and sympathy and admiration for Piers.
We get two romances for the price of one since Piers's father sobered up from his addiction, which caused him to permanently injure his son years earlier, and seeking forgiveness on his visit with his son's prospective bride. Whilst there Piers's mother shows up and upon finding the Duke she does everything she can to make him feel guilty and jealous, while Piers also refuses to forgive and forget. It's pure torture for him, but it all works out in the end. Speaking of which, the closing pages were lovely, and smile-enducing as the cycle begins again with a new generation inheriting the traits of their parents.
At the beginning of the story I wasn't happy Linnet's father and aunt pressured Linnet to lose her virginity to the Prince, and if not him then they were going to take her to a brothel catering to women. This is after they'd accused her of being a "loose" woman just like her philandering mother. I know women had little control over their lives, but I can't turn off the revulsion I feel every time it's replicated in historical fiction.
The level of historical and medical details included I was surprised at, as James stated A Kiss at Midnight wasn't set in a particular year/era, therefore not historically accurate and yet great care has been taken to ensure When Beauty Tamed the Beast is the opposite. I'm pleased she's made this change. I certainly think this sequel is an improvement on the debut....more
Assassins are cool. Super powers, who wouldn't want some? That this is set outside the US and the UK, a huge plus. So what went wrong?
Early on I assumAssassins are cool. Super powers, who wouldn't want some? That this is set outside the US and the UK, a huge plus. So what went wrong?
Early on I assumedAcross the Nightingale Floor had been translated due to inconsistent, simple and superficial language. And I wasn't alone in my thinking. However, a quick search revealed the author to have been born and raised a few miles from where I live in England.
Very little emotion is shown by Takeo, our hero, despite what should've been some harrowing scenes in the beginning in which he lost his entire family in the massacre of his village, witnessed by him. Balancing 'show' and 'tell' is a common problem and unfortunately there's far too much 'tell' than there really should be. Long conversations, flimsy explanations and detailed summaries are shortcuts used here contributing to a severe lack of depth concerning Takeo's character and a level of unreadability to his chapters as I was unable to connect or sympathise with him.
On the other hand, Kaede, our heroine, manages to engender sympathy for her plight right away. Her chapters were noticeably different in quality, contained more action and the feminist-themed commentary was intriguing.
"Even beauty is dangerous for a woman. Better not to be desired by men."
Again and again this is proved in this patriarchal, feudal Japan. Including superstitious nonsense regarding the powers of women cursing men just by being arbitrarily associated with them. If a man happens to die at the hands of the woman he tried to rape it's the would-be rapist's fault, not the woman's. That's the social norm of the time period this is set it.
Kaede's insta-love at first sight towards Takeo and its reciprocation turned me off for it's commonality and overuse amongst young adult novels but THT suggested it could be taken as "fated to be mated". I think, in the end, it was a mixture of both. Their relationship was engineered to be Shigeru and Maruyama's history repeating itself, an ill-fated one where being together would mean death. Our hope this second time around is that they'll finally be reunited and gain a happy-ever-after. For me, this isn't something I like, this repetition in the vain hope all will work out in spite of history attesting to that fact it most likely will not. I can see the poetic beauty and note the tragic Shakespearean nature of these circumstances, though I can't appreciate them here, not with this writing. And certainly not when it looks like the other books will draw out the angst-ridden will-they-or-won't-they. No, thank you.
Hearn gives away her ending early on via heavy foreshadowing. Predictablity isn't something I'm a fan of, although I am grateful the author didn't go full Romeo and Juliet on her characters, close call though it was. I'm also glad the issue of sex wasn't glossed over or ignored. Sex was heard, had with prostitutes, and had next to a rapidly cooling corpse in what must've been a blood-spattered room and clothing. Sexy.
Usually I'm an ardent lover of politics and dastardly machinations, I wasn't in this case. I had zero invested in the plot and no side ever revealed itself to be a favorable one to champion. Takeo, Shigeru, Iida, Kenji and the Tribe. I hoped for nothing. No, I tell a lie. I hoped they'd all die quickly so I could finish the damn book and move on.
As super secrets assassins go I wasn't terribly impressed with the Tribe. Like everyone else they had an agenda, not one I could get behind, and possessed no members I could warm to. They were petty and patronising with no respect for free will, what's to like about that? Their skills were only mildly paranormal, mostly standard stuff to use to fight, escape and evade: enhanced strength and hearing, fast reflexes, creating temporary shadow doppelgangers to distract, and hypnotic gazes that can send you to sleep. Out of all the assassin scenes Takeo's acts of mercy were the ones to make a good impression on me and a bad one on Kenji, Takeo's teacher:
"It's that softness he has," Kenji said. "It drives him to act from compassion, even when he kills."
Villain, Iida, is defeated unbelievably fast and easy. You could argue a stroke of luck, a fortuitous accident, if you will. Not in my eyes. Iida lost his credibility as a convincing foe in the moment he was beaten. For someone so completely paranoid and obsessed about security he underestimated his opponents and ignored possible threats, not just the one that brought him down either.
I understand what the author was trying to achieve with Across the Nightingale Floor and no doubt it would make for a beautiful, graceful yet tragic movie. As a book, it failed to seduce me. Reading shouldn't be hard work. Just skimming I struggled to stop my eyes from glazing over in utter boredom until the last 20% when the pace picks up. I couldn't, in good conscience, recommend this to anyone.
A unique book showcasing multicultural London as the main character featuring much of her history, geography, associated Britishisms, pop. culture refA unique book showcasing multicultural London as the main character featuring much of her history, geography, associated Britishisms, pop. culture references and slang. I'm surprised non-Brits (or even non-Londoners) didn't give this a lower rating for all that they didn't understand because I'm a Brit and there were a couple I didn't get. A basic map and a glossary would've been helpful, I think.
Having a mixed race protagonist instantly put this book in my good graces being mixed race myself, although I was a little disappointed Peter's mother wasn't Afro-Caribbean, like mine. Thankfully, he's not mixed race in name only as his race was referred to consistently throughout without becoming unnecessarily repetitive. Another thing broadcasting loud and clear was Peter's manliness. Refreshingly, he's most definitely male with urges, sexual thoughts and erections just like the next man. No shying away from, or sanitisation of, his sexuality here.
'I was fighting the urge to fling myself down to my knees before her and put my face between her breasts and go blubby, blubby, blubby. When she offered me a seat I was so hard it was painful to sit down.'
'I dreamed that I was sharing my bed with Lesley May and Beverley Brook, both lithe and naked on either side of me, but it wasn't nearly as erotic as it should've been because I didn't dare embrace one for fear that I'd mortally offend the other.'
Peter's charmingly colourful London copper voice had me visualising Gerry from New Tricks reading this to me. Immediately Peter Grant drew me into his interesting and fun narration, increasing my excitement and anticipation for what I thought could be a 5-star awesome book.
'Martin gave the body the 'London once-over' - a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport - like base-jumping or crocodile-wrestling.'
However, with an ultra realistic background, magic seemed incongruous, inconspicuous and surreal in comparison. Ghosts and vampires appeared normal to me, it was the river spirits I couldn't get a handle on. Magic itself, I gradually accepted although to begin with it was an oddly unsubstantiated concept because Nightingale refused to elaborate, purposely keeping Peter in the dark about everything magic-related which was super frustrating. I couldn't believe in something I didn't understand. Apparently, Newton made pioneering breakthroughs in magic at the same time he did science as they're both inextricably linked, which we observe during Peter's rigorous experiments into how magic use damages all technology in its vicinity.
"Well the second, murdering gent, he puts on a cap and a red jacket and he brings out his stick and as quietly and swiftly as a snoozer in a lodging house he comes up behind the first gent and knocks his head clean off." "You're having me on," I said. "No, I'm never," said Nicholas, and crossed himself. "I swear on my own death, and that's as solemn a swear as a poor shade can give. It was a terrible sight. Off came his head and up went the blood."
A nod to Laurell K. Hamilton was made via the intriguing Anita Blake-like horror scenes, a welcome distraction from the magic. I ate them up and wanted more. Aaronovitch had to have been a fan at one stage because his crime scenes are reminiscent of the way LKH wrote hers. I did wonder if the vagina dentata was a surruptitious comment on the way her series devolved over time, though I think I'm reaching with that one since the owner of that vagina seemed to have targeted a rapist.
'Somebody was screaming and I had to check it wasn't me. It could've been me. I certainly wanted to scream, but I remembered that, right then and there, Lesley and I were the only coppers on the scene, and the public doesn't like it when the police start screaming: it contributes to an impression of things not being conducive to the public calm. I got to my feet and found that we'd attracted a crowd of onlookers. "Ladies and gentlemen," I said, "police business. I need you to stand back." The crowd stood back - being covered in blood can have that effect on people.'
Eerily, this was published only 7 months before the 2011 London riots and yet the author got the riot behaviour and media reactions down pat. Yes, the Daily Mail did have field day, the resulting reasons they came up with being basically this:
"Because who is more oppressed? Those that seek nothing but entitlements for themselves, or those that claim for everything: social security, housing benefit, disability, and pay for nothing?" [...] [redacted] must either be using stuff from [redacted]'s memory or else had been reading the Daily Mail for the last two hundred years.
Excellent social commentary, idiosyncrasies of specific groups and observations on current tensions mixed with the studious Newtonian science, history and geography would make Rivers of London a prime candidate for study in schools and universities.
'It's a myth that Londoners are oblivious to one another on the tube: we're hyper-aware of each other and are constantly revising our what-if scenarios and counter strategies. What if that suavely handsome yet ethnic young man asks me for money? Do I give or refuse? If he makes a joke do I respond, and if so will it be a shy smile or a guffaw? [...] If he opens his jacket and yells 'God is great', will I make it down the other end of the carriage in time?'
'People are conditioned by the media to think that black women are all shouting and head-shaking and girlfriending and 'oh, no you didn't', and if they;re not sassy then they're dignified and downtrodden and soldiering on and 'I don't understand why folks just can't get along'. But if you see a black woman go quiet the way Tyburn did, the eyes bright, the lips straight and the face still as a death mask, you have made an enemy for life: do not pass go, do not collect two hundred quid.' [LOL. My mother does this.]
"I just wanted to talk to someone who could speak English properly. I went on holiday to Bavaria last summer and everyone spoke English really well. I bring my kids down to the West End and everyone's foreign. I don't understand a word they're saying." [A common complaint]
Aaronovitch mentions Waterstone's book shops, his ex-employer (and mine, high-five!) but the punctuation actually dates the book as pre-2012 because it's now 'Watersones', no apostrophe. (This dumbing down, eh? Tut, tut). Speaking of dated, two women owned Nokia phones. The likelihood of that is pretty low, even now with the Lumia. Nokias were popular in the early noughties when pretty much everyone owned one, including myself. Now, it's all about smartphones: the iPhone, Samsung and HTC, and yet nobody owned one? The slang and pop. culture references also date this work. You could certainly call this book a dedication to it's era, circa early 2000s.
Perhaps I'm nitpicking and taking this book too seriously, and yet I’m about to take it to a new level.
*Puts feminist hat on.*
Disproportionate gender treatment isn't something I usually notice in fiction. Here, it was abundantly clear women are to be feared, lusted after or victimised and used whereas Nightingale and Peter are painted as the 'good guys' who can do no wrong but, where are the strong, positive female characters?
Let's go through some examples:
✺ Molly. Mute throughout the whole book, is a vampire and is feared at one point and a sex object in another (in the nude painting), and also happens to be a housekeeper.
✺ Lesley. Sex object. Victim(view spoiler)[as her body is possessed and used and then she's critically disfigured, then saved and will now be receiving facial reconstructive surgery (hide spoiler)]. Used regularly as a dogsbody by Peter. I say 'dogsbody' because she rarely asks for anything return and it appears Peter is her only friend and vice versa, so she's like a doormat because she never says "no, do it yourself". Where's the give and take in that relationship?
✺ Stephanopolous(sp?). Painted as the much feared butch lesbian senior cop. Stereotype much?
✺ Mama Thames (Nigerian river spirit). Sex object. Her power is to be feared.
✺ Beverley Brook (Nigerian river spirit). Sex object, used as a hostage and means of transportation and communication.
✺ Tyburn (Nigerian river spirit). Feared. Acts like a mob boss, and while Peter never calls her a bitch, that's what is implied/inferred.
✺ Peter's mum. Wife of an addict, 'nuff said.
✺ Cinema woman. She assaulted a cinema employee, and while not her fault this essentially turns her into a victim(view spoiler)[of possession (hide spoiler)].
I enjoyed the references to places I knew well like Euston station, Forbidden Planet and Waterstones; to authors like John William Polidori and Oscar Wilde (although I felt his mention white-washed over his awful criminal conviction for homosexuality by calling it a 'public nuisance' - Grr!), both of which wrote gothic horror in London settings, if I remember correctly.
Mistakes, inconsistencies and continuity errors marred my experience a little, for example:
➛ Nicholas Wallpenny became Thomas Wallpenny at one point.
➛ Dr John Polidari became Dr John Polidori which confused me at first.
➛ Peter's designated department switched to Nightingale's without explanation. Nightingale had no way of knowing Peter had had contact with the Wallpenny ghost because later it's explained this ghost never had contact with Nightingale, and Peter never named the ghost to that police officer (who thought he was crazy) at the beginning so I doubt he passed the info on. So, how and why would Peter be placed in the Folly (magic department) without any basis for it?
Small things, I suppose. It sucks to be observant sometimes. This wasn't one of those books I could allow my brain to switch off with if I wanted to enjoy the educational lessons provided. As I said before, I really enjoyed the beginning, gradually becoming slower paced and less interesting when I skimmed and skipped around a bit. There was much potential there for high ratings but, for me, it didn't quite deliver, though I can still appreciate much of the book for it's uniquely entertaining voice, ethnically diverse characters, spot on cultural observations and educational lessons - ergo 2-2½ stars.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Did you know Barbie dolls were modelled after blonde German sex dolls called Bild Lilli? Disturbing to know I played with a sex doll as a child. o_O
CDid you know Barbie dolls were modelled after blonde German sex dolls called Bild Lilli? Disturbing to know I played with a sex doll as a child. o_O
Chapter One: Raunch Culture Published in 2006 one would assume Female Chauvinist Pigs would be fairly up-to-date, but it becomes obvious quite quickly that much has changed in the six years since this was written. Here, Levy focuses on the late nineties and early noughties, in the days of Sex and the City, Sexcetera, and Eurotrash, producing nauseating examples of raunch, harassment and coercion of women, exploiting them and their insecurities for entertainment and profit. Playboy's hypocrisy is maddening.
I could almost picture Levy's lips curling with distain and hear the disgust in her voice as she makes judgements about what women do with their own bodies. Framing her concerns in terms of self-respect and self-worth would encourage these strippers and porn stars she castigates, to listen to her arguments. Her angle seems to be to comment and complain rather than influence change to the status quo, therefore FCP appears at this stage only marketable to conservative types, or at least those that keep their private parts private.
Nevertheless, she does tell both sides of the story by using, as examples, the women who embrace, participate and perpetuate raunch culture, and Hugh Hefner and Playboy, letting their own words and actions speak for themselves. However, there is no mention of disadvantaged backgrounds or anything else that could lead them women to turn to raunch. [She rectifies this in Chapter 6.]
Chapter Two: The Future That Never Happened Less relevant to me as a non-American was the description of American feminist history, most of which was completely new and confusing to me, though, in the end, I grasped Levy's messages.
The ultimate (ideal) feminist goal:
“Women as a class have never subjugated another group; we have never marched off to wars of conquest in the name of the fatherland ... those are the games men play.We see it differently. We want to be neither oppressor nor the oppressed. The women’s revolution is the final revolution of them all. [...] The goals of liberation go beyond the simple concept of equality.”
Feminism diversified and splintered into the anti-porn feminists vs. sex-positive feminists, the former believing porn degrades women and feeds rape culture, while the latter thought porn empowering; evidence of sexual emancipation and freedom to pursue active sex lives, like that of men.
Raunch culture was pervasive, unrelenting. At its emergence, when it wasn't instantly rejected, it's subversive nature, working in the background until those you'd expect to denounce it embraced it instead, even feminists. That's when it became socially acceptable. The saying, 'give them an inch and they'll take a mile' comes to mind.
[Levy's thoroughly ruined "sexy" for me. She'd probably like that since we agree it's been co-opted as a slang term for "cool".]
Chapter Three: Female Chauvinist Pigs
'Why worry about disgusting or degrading when you could be giving - or getting - a lap dance yourself? Why try to beat them when you can join them?’
‘Them’ being men. Joining men meant taking part in male activities i.e. forgetting the feminist cause upheld by your forebears and participating in the un-sister-like behaviour of denigrating your fellow woman by acting like a man. In effect, they switch teams and start actively working against feminist goals and promote male ones. ‘FCPs don't bother to question the criteria on which women are judged, they are too busy judging other women themselves.’
In turning ‘traitor,’ FCPs can be interpreted as Uncle Toms. ‘An Uncle Tom is a person who deliberately upholds the stereotypes assigned to his or her marginalized group in the interest of getting ahead with the dominant group.’ Upholding sexist stereotypes and mimicking male behaviour by positioning themselves as the exception to the rule, setting themselves apart from other (inferior) women –‘the girly-girls’, ingratiates FCPs to men by showing them they share a similar mindset, thereby reinforcing anti-feminist views once the subject of them (women) accepts them.
So Levy theorises there are two types of FCP:
(1) ‘acting like a cartoon man-who drools over strippers, says things like "check out that ass," and brags about having the "biggest cock in the building"' (2) 'or acting like a cartoon woman, who has cartoon breasts, wears little cartoon outfits, and can only express her sexuality by spinning around a pole.’
Both involve pleasing and seeking the approval of others rather than being true to individual wants and needs.
Chapter Four: From Womyn to Bois Lesbianism and the transgendered are the examined in this chapter.
Butch (masculine lesbians) and femmes (feminine lesbians) I've heard of, bois is a new one on me. They seem to be characterised as behaving similar to teenage boys: unsophisticated, immature, letting their id control their actions.
[There is] 'another camp of bois who date femmes exclusively and follow a locker-room code of ethics referenced by the phrase "bros before hos" or "bros before bitches," which means they put the similarly masculine identified women they hang out with in a different, higher category than the feminine women they have sex with. This school of bois tends to adhere to almost comically unreconstructed fifties gender roles. They just reposition themselves as the ones who wear the pants-they take Feminist Chauvinist Piggery to a whole different level.'
I'm in complete agreement with Rosskum on finding 'the idea that there are two distinct genders and nothing in between constricting and close-minded.' Physically, genetically, hormonally and psychologically -One person can be a different gender in each of those categories (intersex). XX and XY are not the be all and end all to gender identification.
'Women are actually becoming men' and 'Elective cosmetic surgery - implants for straight women, mastectomies for FTMs (female-to-male transexuals) - is popular to the point of being faddish. Non-committal sex is widespread, and frequently prefigured by a public spectacle.'
Why so much body modification (or mutilation)? Genuine need for plastic surgery to aid reconstruction after injury or cancer, psychological requirement (e.g. gender dysphoria, severely impeding quality of life), or fear of dangerous situations (e.g. revirginization of girls worried about repercussions from religious community) -Those I understand, but to make possibly life-altering decisions when succumbing to peer pressure or to conform for acceptance is profoundly sad.
Almost exclusively focusing on specific subgroups of women in two metropolitan areas (San Francisco and New York City) of one country, such as the career woman, the stripper, masculine lesbians (butch and bois), FTMs, serves to highlight extremes among minorities some of which the global media may have made popular and as a result, socially acceptable, to the detriment of the feminist cause (i.e. equality with men) and the benefit of masculinism by reconfirming the superiority of men.
Unrepresentative of the larger population, these generalisations based on small groups aren’t necessarily indicative of a larger problem and treating them as such may hurt Levy’s message when some of us haven’t experienced or witnessed the examples given (but just because we've not encountered something doesn't mean it doesn't exist), and fail to see or understand the relationships between certain behaviours, causes and effects detailed.
Culturally speaking, on the whole, this is only directly applicable to metropolitan America, and to a lesser extent other developed countries, because feminism isn't always recognised or is oppressed in the developing world.
Chapter Five: Pigs in Training By far the best chapter, describing the feelings and actions of teenage girls, and the ineffectual sex education they receive.
A girl's self-worth is derived from the attention of boys, competition with other girls for a boy's attention results in dressing provocatively, flirting, the flashing of 'assets', performing oral sex on boys, intercourse and publicly documenting nudity or sexual acts and sharing them to increase one's popularity. Sadly, peer pressure seems to dictate when girls lose their virginity rather than thrill-seeking curiosity and the pursuit of pleasure.
At no point does it occur to these girls to request reciprocal oral sex, and have difficulty recognising, expressing and experiencing sexual desire, and sex education doesn't teach 'sexuality as a larger more complex, more fundamental part of being human.' Instead guilt-ridden Christian America has spent $1bn in ten years teaching abstinence while ignoring contraception or lying about its effectiveness. The message children receive is:
'Girls have to be hot. Girls who aren't hot probably need breast implants. Once a girl is hot, she should be as close to naked as possible all the time. Guys should like it. Don't have sex.'
Chapter Six: Shopping for Sex Levy's highly critical of Sex and the City, Carrie in particular, because she 'rarely evaluated her own happiness' and instead 'measur[ed] men's interest' which is a 'flawed guide to empowerment.' I loathed Carrie's unchecked materialist obsession with expensive shoes when she needed money to pay her rent. She regularly offended my practical sensibilities and her frequently 'complicated' love life because she made it so.
As a teenager I watched the show with fascination and surprise. It was a source of sex education, an insight into the fashionable American woman, and covered important subjects I'd never considered before, like abortion. Miranda and Charlotte were my favourite characters, though I respected Samantha's refusal to be embarrassed about anything sex-related, to her it was a fact of life, which it is.
I'd argue with Levy about Samantha's mannish approach to her sexual exploits as Levy emphasises FCP's requirement for quantity of sexual partners over quality, knowingly robbing themselves of satisfying sex, whereas Samantha made a concerted effort to get as much enjoyment and pleasure out of every conquest she could, exploring the different facets of sexuality along the way, without fear or judgement. She doesn't comfortably fit the mould Levy's created, though she does match a few of the criteria.
An underlying inferred theory for the reason women act like men by seeking unemotional, non-committal sex, is the possible prior rejection and hurt experienced after what turns out to be a one-night stand, encouraging women to take out emotion from the equation when they recover and decide to move on to the next man, and use sex as proof of future desirability to soothe the insecurities that arose from that injury to her pride.
Pornography is documented prostitution, and Levy argues stripping falls under this category as well, for the commodification of a naked body. She goes on to use successful porn star Jenna Jameson as an example of the damaging nature of porn:
'Jameson thinks that women outside the sex industry have internalized its spirit and model their sexuality on porn. [She] presents life in the industry as marked by violence and violation: She tells us she was beaten unconscious with a rock, gang-raped, and left for dead on a dirt road during her sophomore year of high school; she was life-threateningly addicted to drugs before she was twenty; she was beaten by her boyfriend and sexually assaulted by his friend. She also writes, "To this day, I still can't watch my own sex scenes."
Not once does she use the word 'pleasure' to describe her sexuality. 'Like most employees of the sex industry, [she] is not sexually uninhibited, she is sexually damaged.' Being a sex worker further damages these vulnerable people, and Levy suggests these inappropriate erotic role models are suffering PTSD from past sexual abuse, 'It's like using a bunch of shark attack victims as our lifeguards.'
Conclusion We've adopted and conformed to the sex industry's representation of sexuality, which dictates what's desirable and worthy of fantasy. 'We have to ask ourselves why we are so focused on silent girly-girls in G-strings faking lust,' must we also fake it to the detriment of our own personal tastes and sexual satisfaction?
'Why have we fallen sway to a kind of masculine mystique, determined that to be adventurous is to be like a man, and decided that the best thing we can possibly expect for women is hotness?’ The 'prevalence of raunch in the mainstream has diluted the effect of both sex radicals and feminists, who've seen their movement's images popularized while their ideals are forgotten.
‘Sexual power is only one very specific kind of power,' we should be looking at other types of power, breaking through the glass ceiling and pursuing higher female representation in politics and the boardrooms of big business for which previous generations’ feminists originally strived.
Men are all evil, sexist pigs! Well, no. They're not. As Levy shows men so unfavourably throughout, I do wish she'd included a caveat in her introduction stating that not all men act in negative, stereotypical ways. Kind and respectful men do exist, though you wouldn't think so from reading this book.
Occasionally, I was uncomfortable with taking Levy's chosen quotes from other people, whether from printed sources or her own personal interviews, as a truthful representation of that person's opinion. It would be so easy for Levy's bias to influence the way she edits and presents others' words. Although this was based on my own inexperience and naivety with regards to certain viewpoints, e.g. having had little knowledge of the ins and outs of lesbian and transgendered culture and communities, etc.
Warning: Don't read this book if you're easily offended, or partial to feeling shame or guilt for falling into one of the groups Levy criticises, it will only make you feel worse. Both Christianity and politics are also discussed and criticised....more
While Fury's Kiss is gut-bustingly funny, dominated by a super kickass female character and demonstrates in-depth character growth and development, I'While Fury's Kiss is gut-bustingly funny, dominated by a super kickass female character and demonstrates in-depth character growth and development, I've finally deciphered what bothers me about works by Karen Chance.
When I look back at all of the books I've read, even ones from years ago, I notice that I can tell you something about what went on in that particular book, even if it's general. With Chance's books I struggle to remember why I've given them all high ratings because I draw a blank when I poke my memories of them. That in itself gives me pause, instantly devaluing my ratings. Reading Fury's Kiss after the author's 3-year hiatus (I haven't read Hunt the Moon yet) has made me realise why.
From the get go it's action, action, action! Any lulls in the high octane speed are filled with funnies and perhaps angst. The adventure zips all over the place, jumping from one line of thought, or POV, to another. Questions I have about what's happening aren't always answered and I frequently find myself at a loss as to what's going on and why, and explanations given can be mind-bending and brain-breaking. Frustration bubbles and I found myself frequently putting the book down. In the end, I decided to turn the brain off and go along for the ride, but I was still left flummoxed with unanswered questions and a desire to have read more about some things and less of others.
For example, the child Vampire Dorina chose to protect from LC in the beginning, what happened to it once they made it through the portal home? What's the story behind the golden Irin child Vampire Dory cried from the past? Was there any connection between the Irin Vampire Dorina met in the past and the Irin Human Dory met in the present? As for desires, I wished for more interaction between Dory's two halves, but what I was really waiting for was (view spoiler)[their merging (hide spoiler)]. This is what I was desperate to read and I resented everything else for preventing me from doing so. Impatient, I know.
So much happened between cover to cover it's almost sensory overload. Exhausting, for 500+ pages. Focus is appreciated, so is knowing the who, where and when of the differing POVs and thoughts Dory reads via telepathy.
Again, hilariously funny, great characterization and development, but things were ignored or merely sidelined, as Sandra mentions Claire gets little page time.
Fury's Kiss while enjoyable, eliciting many a laugh, is jam-packed, stuffed to the gills, and still doesn't manage to incorporate everything. Priortization and simplification, of the plot and magic mechanics, probably would've helped my understanding, digestion of information and future memory of the book itself. Forgetting 99% of this one by the time #4 comes out is likely. But the most important things to remember are:
(view spoiler)[ ❶ Vampire Dorina and Human Dory will one day merge. ❷ Dory is now a (temporary) senator, for politcal reasons. (I sympathised when she fell on her face and fainted when her Consul announced it. LOL) ❸ Dory and LC are now a couple. ❹ Dory is Ray's master. She has more respect for him than most senators and consuls. (hide spoiler)]
Hopefully, typing those out and my status updates will jog my memory.
What I appreciated: Solid writing The political dilemmas A heroine with brains and skills The natural (i.e. unforced) romance It's Firefly/Sereni3.5 stars.
What I appreciated: Solid writing The political dilemmas A heroine with brains and skills The natural (i.e. unforced) romance It's Firefly/Serenity meets I, Robot. I loved both. Great characters (Iko is a very human-like robot with an adorable personality and the stepmother as the villian is someone you can sometimes sympathise with.)
What I didn't like: Did it have to be a retelling of Cinderella? It lends far too much predictability to the story, making certain things too obvious to anyone familiar with the fairy tale. It led me to spot things as early on as 11% in and get frustrated by how slow the heroine gets to the same conclusions I did.
I had to figure out for myself what it meant to be a cyborg through Cinder's experiences but I have no idea if she's "normal" compared to others considering her unique programming and her (view spoiler)[being Lunar (hide spoiler)]. This lack of knowledge also made it difficult for me to understand how human the cyborgs were, despite the law's dim view on the matter.
The cliffhanger. I'm not opposed to it here exactly as it wasn't painful but the ending left me empty and asking "was that it?" And knowing the sequel doesn't just follow Cinder but introduces Scarlet (a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood), I'm a little wary about how things will progress.
I really wanted this to be a 5-star read and perhaps if Cinder was an all-encompassing stand alone without the Cinderella link (and the associated predictability), it would've been. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A tale of two halves. First 50%, 1 star. The second, 4 stars.
Five years ago, when this was first published, the language used, in the first half in paA tale of two halves. First 50%, 1 star. The second, 4 stars.
Five years ago, when this was first published, the language used, in the first half in particular, wouldn't have seemed so cliched. The pace was slow and I didn't feel anything for the characters. But when Annabelle meets the pack things start to change. And then something devastating happens and Anna's emotions reached out and grabbed my throat, squeezing until my eyes watered. The only thing I didn't like about that part: when Kieran and Annabelle reunite they don't talk about the (view spoiler)[miscarriage (hide spoiler)] or address the effect it's had on them and how they'll proceed with their future.
As for Ryland, I suspect the author's going to do a Kleypas and turn our wannabe rapist into a hero. It takes immense talent to accomplish that and considering his behaviour throughout Shewolf I'm not confident his change in character would successfully win me over and convince me he's a good guy deep down.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Revived committed suicide early on, but somehow it was saved. It was... Revived. Dun, dun, dun.
The Science. Oh dear god, the science!
"Revive" is a druRevived committed suicide early on, but somehow it was saved. It was... Revived. Dun, dun, dun.
The Science. Oh dear god, the science!
"Revive" is a drug which brings the recently dead back to life though it heals no wounds and cures no disease.
Adrenaline, anyone? Has this not been discovered in this world yet? Why yes, it has. Daisy has epi-pens on hand for a deadly allergy. So how is it any different from adrenaline? There's no answer because Revive's discovery was never explained. Nor is the state of any "Revived" individual. Are they the living dead? Still human? Able to reproduce? No idea.
Also: A bus crash with no survivors would mean lots of corpses with fatal injuries. Only those who'd died by passive means, like asphyxiation, might be revivable. (Yet they tried the drug out on a child with a foreign body piercing his brain. *facepalm*) Then again, in this experiment, no other treatment can be performed in addition to Revive's administration. No CPR. This means no circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain, heart and lungs -critical organs this drug needs to work on. So how is it going to get to its target destination from the injection site? No defibrillation to restart the heart. The drug would have to be administered with 5 minutes of flat-lining to avoid risking brain damage or brain death. But it would do no good if Revive can't be transported around the body in order to do its job. Actual revival rate: MINISCULE. Viability of drug (under these conditions): NONE.
In conjunction with other resuscitation methods it would probably act like adrenaline, possibly keeping someone alive long enough for surgery. But for the sake of secrecy and the experiment the success rate of the drug would be so close to zero it wouldn't be worth using.
That CPR trick at the end is: (a) MEDICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. 12 minutes dead (timed anyway, death had to have occurred much earlier - see below) with no intervention? Nothing you can do, they're dead and gone. (b) LOGISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. (view spoiler)[According to Wikipedia, anaphylaxis can occur 5 to 30 minutes after exposure, and hundreds of bee stings would've accelerated the process. Say it took 10 minutes until death, plus 12 after. Communication boyfriend-friend-agent-aeroplane, finding a suitable place to land, landing and finding/flagging down a car near a small town -30 mins at least. Driving 100mph for 20 miles equals another 12 minutes. (hide spoiler)] Not enough time for help to arrive and still be of any use.
Epic science fail on the science fiction front.
Realistic contemporary YA front Great. There were definitely some perfectly portrayed emotional moments concerning (view spoiler)[The Big C (hide spoiler)]. Even though I guessed correctly about what was up with Audrey it didn't take away the fact that I haven't encountered this issue in paranormal or sci-fi YA before. It was different, new.
Daisy's parental figures, there are three, were all present and/or made an appearance. No disappearing parent syndrome, although caring Mother #1 was replaced by robo-Cassie a.k.a. uncaring Mother #2, or the fem-bot as Daisy calls her. Then there's Mason who I suspected had difficulty staying objective instead of treating his "daughter" like a lab rat, as he should.
Matt, Daisy's love interest, isn't a jerk. Nor is he abusive. He does act out, but he has every reason for doing so, and he apologises for his behaviour. Overall, he's responsible and caring.
Megan is a teenage transgendered character, something I've never encountered in fiction. She's my first. There were a couple of moments I really felt she was a flamboyantly camp stereotype, most commonly attributed to gay males, but I overlooked this for her valuable insight and understanding.
The only thing I didn't get were the cultural references to music. Way before my time (I'm 25).
The Conspiracy While I anticipated parts of it I wasn't frustrated by its small element of predictability. It was satisfactory.
Readability Despite the science fails, I kept reading. And eagerly, too. That says a heck of a lot. High quality writing, a fast pace and it demonstrated an excellent understanding of difficult emotions, like guilt and grief.
Cringe-worthiness: Some. The ooey-gooey crush developing into a romance, the divulging of dangerous secrets when it wouldn't benefit a certain party, and a little Mary Sue-ness.
Anyone who's seen this movie will know what I mean. Presenting a fake family unit to the outside world, selling the perfect family to the public when in reality none of them are related or romantically involved with each other, and all of them employees of the same organisation. It's all pretend. David Duchovny is Mason, playing the role of Dad, with the same ensuing emotional development of deepening attachment to a character, but in this case, of the father-daughter variety. Fake names, documents, moving house every time the cover's blown, again, all reminiscent of the movie.
The head of the organisation in the book is nicknamed "God" for playing god by resurrecting the dead. His employees are his "Disciples", and Revived children, "Converts". It makes a surreal sort of sense.
Conclusion Usually, failing so completely on the science will earn a book 1, maybe 2 stars, and will be forever consigned to the shit-list shelf. No, 3 stars this time. Even though the romance seemed typically thin at first, it grew into something real, while the emotions of all involved were also authentic. I didn't hate the characters, a common complaint with me. Being a stand alone also helps its case. If I see other works by Patrick in my local library's catalogue, I wouldn't say no to reading them, but I wouldn't trust the science!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Meet Olaf. He's a cute, traumatised 9-year-old polar bear cub struggling to master English, his second language.
His past is so sad it brought out myMeet Olaf. He's a cute, traumatised 9-year-old polar bear cub struggling to master English, his second language.
His past is so sad it brought out my maternal instincts, especially when he was too scared to sleep alone. And he's not the only vulnerable character in Ronan's informal foster home for abused bears. There are three others. Ronan's Papa Bear act is surprisingly sweet. He's a gentle giant who works as a bouncer, exuding a fierce and dangerous demeanor as a bulky 7ft shifter. His gentle treatment of Scott, who's in the midst of transition (shifter puberty) is a violently erratic mess, is heart-melting. Goldilocks Elizabeth isn't unaffected by this. She's an ex-resident of foster homes herself and knows just how bad they can be but the love she feels in Ronan's home encourages her trust of him. Understandably, due to her childhood and romantic past trusting someone is something she never wants to do again.
The romance didn't do it for me but the foster home deal did. I was disappointed that not all of the abused bears' stories were told in enough detail to satisfy my curiosity. I was hungry for more information on their histories, the resulting effects and how they'd grown since coming under Ronan's care. I even wanted more Olaf despite him getting the most page time.
I recommend all Shifter Unbound fans read this novella because it fills in some informational gaps on, for example, transition and shifter-human cubs, with a brief introduction to Kim and Liam's 3-month-old baby, Katriona Sinead Niamh Morrissey.
'Elizabeth brought her hand up, aimed the can of pepper spray at his face, and gave him a full dose. The bear blinked, drew back, blinked again, sat down on his hind legs, and rocked his head all the way back. Then sneezed. The noise exploded into the room like a sonic boom, vibrating papers on the desk and rattling the Victorian prints on the wall in their prim and proper frames.'